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Keeping firefighters safe has a cost PDF Print E-mail
Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO   
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 18:49

Village, town officials told fire department faces large expense for updating breathing equipment

The Belgium Fire Department on Monday asked village and town officials to at least consider replacing equipment that may become obsolete in the near future.

While a decision likely wouldn’t have to be made until new standards are adopted by the National Fire Protection Association in 2018, it might make sense for the department to be outfitted with more highly pressurized air bottles, a compressor to fill those bottles and new fire packs, officials said.

That will come at a significant cost.

The department must replace 42 bottles with a 2,216 pounds per square inch capacity by 2017. 

Each bottle costs $950, Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said.

Most fire departments have gone to 4,500-psi bottles, Birenbaum said, noting the higher-capacity bottles weigh less.

“If we switch to new bottles, we have to buy a new compressor, which adds another $30,000 to $35,000,” he said. 

The current fire packs also wouldn’t fit the higher capacity bottles, Birenbaum said, meaning they’d have to buy 21 new packs at a cost of about $7,000 per pack.

All told, a new set of bottles, packs and a compressor could cost at least $239,000.

If the department purchases the lower psi bottles in 2017, it risks being told by the NFPA that those bottles don’t meet new standards the following year.

“We could be throwing $40,000 away for nothing,” Town Supr. Bill Janeshek said during the annual fire department budget meeting.”

Village President Rich Howells suggested the fire department look into buying a compressor that could fill both types of bottles.

“We can work on the packs and bottles after that because I assume we’ll eventually go to the higher psi bottles anyway,” he said. 

The village and town boards approve a fire department budget that totals $131,050, a 1.5% increase from last year. 

Based on equalized valuations, the Town of Belgium will pay $76,461 and the village’s share will be $54,588.

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