McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 26, 2014

Firefighters update Haz-Mat equipment

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — It takes specialized equipment to clean up a hazardous waste spill —and many times that equipment’s different than conventional firefighting equipment.

New Millennium gas masks are on their way to the city for use by firefighters when cleaning up hazardous materials.

McAlester Fire Chief Brett Brewer said the masks are known as Air Purifying Respirators, or APRs.

“These Air Purifying Respirators are designed to keep out fumes,” he said.

Brewer noted that the APRs are not hooked up to air tanks, like the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment that firefighters use when going inside during a structure fire filled with smoke, for example.

 That’s because SCBA tanks typically are not needed to help firefighters breathe when cleaning up a hazardous spill.

McAlester city councilors unanimously approved the expenditure of $2,238.32 during the council’s most recent meeting. It’s part of a Department of Homeland Security upgrade.

The new masks are not the only new  equipment the McAlester Fire Department will be receiving. An amount not to exceed $12,500 to replace and update fire equipment, including fire hoses, has also been approved.

“We’ll be replacing 1,700 feet of hose,” Brewer said. He called the addition of the new hose “mostly maintenance.”

The hose comes in sections that can be connected together. That way, a worn section of hose can be disconnected and replaced with a new section, without having to replace the entire hose.

“We’re getting roughly 42 pieces,” Brewer said.

The $12,500 approved for equipment to include the new hoses is coming from the city’s portion of the county sales tax collected to benefit fire departments in Pittsburg County.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.