On the left: A PF&R facepiece that failed from heat. On the right: The new facepiece design.
Today Portland City Council moved to accept and appropriate a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to replace Portland Fire & Rescue's outdated facepieces that are an integral part of a firefighter's self-contained breathing apparatus. These face pieces are the masks that firefighters use to separate themselves from extreme heat, noxious smoke and toxic gasses, while delivering clean air to breathe during firefighting or hazardous material operations.
PF&R needed to replace these pieces of equipment in order to be compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. Recent studies (http://www.nist.gov/el/fire_research/scba-120611.cfm) have shown that the facepieces PF&R currently use put firefighters at risk due to failure from thermal degradation of the polycarbonate lenses.
PF&R's selection by the Department of Homeland Security, (through its Federal Emergency Management Agency) to receive a $518,240 grant for the purchase of individual face-pieces for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) will fund equipment updates long overdue.
"We're extremely pleased to get this grant that will help us make sure our safety equipment meets federal standards and our firefighters will be armed with the tools they need to protect Portland's people, places, and environment," says PF&R Chief Erin Janssens. "Our current facepieces have exceeded their useful life, and have been identified to fail under certain circumstances, so the ability to replace them at this time is an enormous benefit."
Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman brought the grant to Council in his first ordinance on behalf of PF&R since his assignment a month ago. He said, "PF&R is very aggressive not only in protecting people, but also in pursuing every grant opportunity available that assists in both operational needs and savings to our city. I'm pleased to see this grant appropriated."