It was out with the old and in with the new when it came to the Hartford Fire Department’s safety equipment.
Firefighters said they breathed a sigh of relief after getting upgrades loaded with safety features.
It comes more than a year after firefighter Kevin Bell died in a house fire during which his air tank ran out, according to safety reports.
Lights now give firefighters a clearer view of how much air is left. They said it’s a much better indicator than the old gauges.
“I think it’s night and day in terms of what we have before,” said Lt. Gerald Bancroft, Hartford Fire Department.
One hundred and fifty of the new breathing packs and 400 air tanks are now in use city-wide.
Interim Assistant Fire Chief Scott Brady said the department began looking into the pricy new gear two years ago and just received it.
It was last October that Bell died after becoming trapped in a burning home on Blue Hills Avenue.
An internal investigation found 22 factors in Bell’s death.
However, Brady said he’s not sold on the idea that the new packs would have prevented it.
“No, I don't think the packs would have made a difference in that particular situation,” he told Eyewitness News.
However, he said he hoped they can help other firefighters in the future.
Aside from more breathing capacity, the packs also have a tracking device built onto them.
“Definitely having more time for us with the Scott packs is critical,” Bancroft said.
Such a device could come in handy when crews lose track of each other in chaotic situations, firefighters said.
“It would certainly help us in any kind of situation where we ended up with a firefighter in jeopardy and needing us to come in and rescue them,” Brady said.
The department said it is also planning to upgrade to microphones in the near future which could help in the case of a distress call.
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