Saving the protectors

By Susan Bromley

Brandon Township Fire Department Capt. Billy Starr with the rapid intervention kit.
Brandon Township Fire Department Capt. Billy Starr with the rapid intervention kit.

Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.- Those who risk their lives to protect the community will soon have one more tool to keep themselves safe.
The fire department has won an Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the funds will be used to purchase rapid intervention kits (RIK), which will aid in the rescue of a firefighter in a dire situation.
“If they get trapped in a space and time is needed to deconstruct a building that has fallen, this gives crews rescuing them more time to safely bring them out of a structure,” said Capt. Billy Starr. “We have been fortunate we have not had an incident yet where this is needed, but now we will be prepared.”
Rapid intervention kits are packs constructed of flame and heat resistant material to hold containers with approximately 60-minutes worth of air. The kits have a special connector which allows it to be plugged into the breathing apparatus a firefighter normally wears when battling a blaze for seamless transfer.
The fire department was awarded $11,286 toward the purchase of the kits and will contribute a 5 percent match, or $564, as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which sponsors the grant. With those funds, Starr said three kits will be purchased, with one placed on each engine.
“We are very grateful for AFG’s funding to improve our firefighter safety and help us with the ‘everyone goes home’ philosophy,” said Starr. “Without additional federal funding, this project would not have moved forward at this time and would have left us lacking essential tools needed to protect our own.”
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant is available annually. Township firefighters are now working on writing a grant application that would enable them to replace their obsolete turnout gear. The National Firefighters Protection Agency standards state that every 10 years, ensembles need replacement because materials break down. The township’s gear reaches that 10-year milestone this year. Cost for replacement is about $2,500 per ensemble, said Starr, and the department needs about 40 sets of gear.