Ultimatum reaps BFRS new breathing equipment

  • Old equipment: a firefighter wearing breathing aparatus to attack a fire in this file photograph

    Old equipment: a firefighter wearing breathing aparatus to attack a fire in this file photograph

New breathing apparatus for firefighters to make sure they can carry out their job safely is to be bought, a union leader has said.

Allan Wilkinson, the Fire Service Association president, explained that the public faced losing out if ageing equipment was not replaced when it reached the end of its life next year.

The union earlier wrote to the Government to say crews would not work with outdated equipment and almost $670,000 was earmarked in the 2019-20 Budget for its renewal.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The replacement of breathing apparatus is next on the table. We’ve had to write a letter to the minister explaining, because in budget cuts, that is a piece of equipment that we can’t afford to be cut. That’s a big-ticket item.”

He added that the letter was addressed to the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer with the intention that it would be passed on to Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We outlined our position. We said that we won’t be permitting our members to wear expired breathing apparatus, so whether they’re replaced or not, we won’t be permitting our members to wear them.”

He added: “The public would be at a disadvantage because our firefighters would not be doing interior firefighting.”

Mr Wilkinson explained that the breathing apparatus had a “life expectancy and after that the recommendation is to have them replaced”.

He said the equipment used at present would start to expire next year.

News of the new breathing sets came as a contract worth an estimated $1.3 million was signed for a new ladder truck to replace the service’s Bronto ladder, which is more than 20 years old.

A Ministry of National Security spokesman confirmed last week: “Capital budget funding was approved for both the breathing apparatus and the new ladder truck in the current fiscal year.

“This information is included in the Budget estimates for 2019-20 published by the Ministry of Finance. As such, there are no concerns with respect to funding these purchases.”

The Budget book showed an estimated $669,000 will be spent on new breathing apparatus.

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Published Jul 2, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 2, 2019 at 6:57 am)

Ultimatum reaps BFRS new breathing equipment

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