Plain Township Fire Department is upgrading the gear firefighters wear when they enter burning buildings so it meets national standards.

Plain Township Fire Department is upgrading the gear firefighters wear when they enter burning buildings so it meets national standards.

"According to the new NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) code 15:21, turnout gear can only be used for 10 years," said firefighter Chris Pabst.

He told Plain Township trustees Feb. 16 that the department has 33 full-time firefighters that each need their own gear. The department also has 24 backup sets, which can be used by firefighters if their main set of gear gets wet during their shift.

The trustees agreed to purchase 10 sets of gear this year from Phoenix Safety Outfitters in Springfield for $21,166.50. Fire Chief John Hoovler said the purchase was in the budget.

"By purchasing 10 sets of gear this year, all full-time firefighters will have backup gear and no full-time firefighters will have any gear that is over 10 years old," Pabst said.

He said the new sets also would help the department begin replacing gear that is due to expire in 2012, which includes some of the current backup gear.

The new gear includes another safety measure, a handle on the back of each suit that another firefighter can grasp to pull a colleague from a burning building, Pabst said.

Trustee Dave Olmstead asked if the department could begin a replacement program so the trustees could expect to approve seven sets of a gear a year to stay updated and in compliance with national standards.

Pabst said he put together an equipment replacement schedule for trustees to view. Olmstead said the department likely could plan on purchasing six to seven sets of new equipment each year.

Trustee Dave Ferguson asked what is done with the outdated gear. Hoovler said the equipment could not be used by active firefighters but it could be used for training purposes. As an example, he said, a vocational school could let firefighter trainees try on the equipment as long as they were not dealing with a live fire.

lwince@thisweeknews.com

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