MARTINS FERRY - The Martins Ferry Fire Department is in need of new turn-out gear. A new set of gear costs around $2,325 per set for everything from helmet to boots.
According to Martins Ferry Fire Chief Jack Regis, the oldest gear they have is nearly16 years old; the average age for gear is about 12 years. They are trying to replace 44 sets of gear that is 12 years or older. They have asked council for help and are currently applying for grants.
"We were in the process of buying two or three sets per year per station and then some other needs arose and we got out of that cycle and got behind." said Regis. "More recently in the last two and a half years we have had more call volume which naturally means the gear is getting more use."
Pictured is a retired Martins Ferry Fire Department jacket.
The increase in call volume is due to Martins Ferry Fire Department's answering more mutual aid calls with neighboring departments over the last two years they have answered 50 to 70 percent more mutual aide calls.
Regis recently went before council to ask for help in purchasing the new gear. Regis stated that the current gear would not pass inspection.
"If someone was to be injured or god forbid a fatality, the gear is inspected by the appropriate authorities and it probably would not pass due to its age and condition," said Regis.
The age and condition of the gear and how long it last depends on the usage. Gear with heavy usage can last five to eight years, while others can last 12 years.
The qualifications for gear to pass inspection includes the gear complying with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards of when it was manufactured, cleaning records, reasons for cleaning and decontamination and information on any repairs.
They look at the gear for excessive soiling, excessive contamination and physical damage such as missing trim (the reflective stirpes), missing stitching and correct assembly of the components. They will also test the lining and for leakage.
"One of the biggest things, the gear must be fitted to the individual, which is hard to do at $2,325 a set," said Regis.
Regis went on to say that every year the standard of turn out gear is changed. He also said that the more experienced fire fighters have been fitted with the older gear since they know the limitations and when to get out.
Right now, along with asking for councils help, the fire department is also applying for grants to help pay for the new gear. Overall, they are asking council for 12 new sets of gear that will cost about $23,000.
"Council has always been very supportive of us in the past and certainly anticipate that they will be supportive us with this request too," said Regis. "We are going to keep actively pursuing grants to try to replace all this gear until we replace it all ... We just that the organizations that reward these grants consider the little guy and our needs as well as the needs of the bigger departments."
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