Florence County fire departments to receive new breathing apparatuses

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Florence County Council approved the purchase of more than $1 million worth of breathing apparatuses for local fire departments Thursday morning.

The chief of West Florence Fire-Rescue said the new equipment will make a difference to his firefighters.

Fire Chief Howard Worrell said the air packs his department uses now are 15 years old. They still work, but he doesn’t know for how much longer.

“We may have another year left on ours,” Worrell said. “They will be obsolete and unserviceable shortly.”

He said breathing apparatuses are necessary to prevent damage from the harmful smoke firefighters are often exposed to. The new packs will be easier to service and meet current safety standards.

“The packs that they’re replacing are f15 years old,” Worrell said. “The NFPA standards update every five years, so they are three standards behind.” They will also be cross-compatible with the equipment from other departments.

“They have to be in the same pressure range, they have to have the same physical dimensions so that they’ll fit in the pack, Worrell said. “Our biggest challenge will be identifying them so we can get our stuff back after the fire because they’ll all look identical.”

The purchase was funded by a penny sales tax voted on in November. The tax also paid for new trucks for several departments in April.

Olanta, Sardis-Timmonsville and Johnsonville fire departments will also receive new air packs. Worrell said he expects to have them by mid-August.

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