Abilene Fire Department rolls out new air packs

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – The Abilene Fire Department is rolling out new air packs, but these self contained breathing apparatuses come with lots of advancements. This means it’s a bit of a learning curve for the firefighters.

These firefighters aren’t learning a new dance, they’re actually learning a critical part of this new technology.

“The new air packs actually have a sensor on the hips and so in order to keep that alarm system from going off if the firefighters are not actually engaged in firefighting the guys will be outside kinda moving back and forth,” Abilene Fire Chief Cande Flores said.

Out with the old and in with the new, the fire department now has 110 top of the line self contained breathing apparatuses.

“It is different the way that we wear these compared to what we’re used to. A lot of different features things like that,” Abilene Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Burden said.

Those features include tracking firefighters inside a structure, checking their air levels and the officer on each truck has a thermal imager inside his face mask.

“A half inch screen right down here that’s projected outward to where he can actually look around and see the different heat layers inside of a structure,” Deputy Chief Burden said.

“We’ll be able to see victims to get to them quicker and get them out of that smokey environment so that they have better survivability,” Lieutenant Jarrod Crockett said.

It’s an advancement Chief Flores never imagined when he first started 27 years ago.

“The air packs we had were very very basic and from what we are buying today, what we are putting in service today I mean you’re talking it’s almost futuristic. It’s very high technology,” Chief Flores said.

As the fire department rolls out these new packs, they’re taking a step into the next generation of fighting fires. The fire department purchased more than 100 new air packs for about $800,000, which came from their apparatus replacement fund.

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