New high-tech masks help save firefighters' lives

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New masks will help save firefighters' lives

It has been eight years since Phoenix firefighter Brett Tarver lost his life after becoming trapped while battling a fire at a grocery story on 35th Avenue and McDowell.

While firefighters put their lives on the line every time they go on a job, the Phoenix Fire Department is hoping some new hi-tech equipment will help make sure every firefighter comes out alive.

Valley firefighters are getting trained on the equipment at the Phoenix Fire Academy. It is called the Dr¤ger PSS7000, a new self-contained breathing apparatus. Capt. Ken Flickinger explains, " You can see that the pack itself moves both up and down and then side to side so on the wear, it's a lot more comfortable." He adds, "This is now a 4,500 hundred, 45-minute bottle where this was a 3,300, 30-minute bottle so, in theory, we have built-in extra air for our members to breathe on the back end if we happen to get into trouble."

Capt. Flickinger says another advantage firefighters have when using this unit is a buddy hose. "On the old bottle we had to go out, we had to disconnect and be exposed to the hostile environment we were in. This just allows us both the male and the female portions of the buddy breathing is to connect our daisy chain to several members if they're all in trouble off of a single donors bottle."

Having more air on the job is not the only thing Phoenix firefighters will get by using this new unit. Capt. Flickinger explains, "We have a personal safety built integrated device in our pass unit so that if we have a member that is in trouble and he lays still for 20 seconds to 30 seconds it will set off an available alarm. That is 95 plus decibels, plus all the warning lights on the bottle will sound."

This will definitely come in handy if a firefighter is hurt. Another plus to the unit or the mask is, "There's very little limitations to it and within this mask we have a wireless heads-up display which enables our users to know how much air they have, allow their partners to know how much air they have. It's more effective in the hostile environment, the limited visibility environment and we can now see and hear our firefighters a lot better with this unit."

While firefighters do not know if this new unit would have saved Tarver's life, anytime equipment is upgraded can only help them do their job that much better.