CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The breathing mask a firefighter wears is one of the most important parts of his or her uniform.
The Charleston Fire Department is upgrading dozens of masks to make sure responders are safe.
A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is a critical component of a firefighter’s protective ensemble.
It’s also very sophisticated, connecting the firefighter to his or her air tank and making sure they aren’t breathing hot, toxic smoke in an emergency.
Charleston Fire Department spent $112,161 dollars on 43 SCBA upgrade kits in April.
They were bid out earlier this year and purchased from Rhinehart Fire Services last month.
Chief Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh said the kit provides new parts to retrofit an existing SCBA to national standards.
When available, he said, they try to order upgrade kits (about $2,600) versus brand new units ($6,000) because it’s more cost effective.
The Charleston Fire Department made major equipment upgrades, including updating SCBAs, after the Sofa Super Store Fire in 2007. Nine local firefighters died in that furniture store fire.
CFD overhauled operations following local and national investigations that ultimately improved safety standards for firefighters all over the country.
Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illness of all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.