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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Madison firefighters breathe easier with new equipment

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kevin Schultheis of Municipal Emergency Services shows Madison Township firefighters how to put on the breathing mask that comes with the department's new air packs. The department also received a thermal camera. [Order this photo]
The air pack activates its PASS device after 20 seconds of inaction, quietly beeping at first before becoming a more shrill, violent siren. Effective when entering a burning building, the wail becomes painful in the Madison Township Fire Department.

The only way to shut it off before it reaches the third level of volume is...to do the Chicken dance.

Madison Township Fire Department received four Scott air packs and a thermal imaging camera Monday afternoon thanks to Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter and money from the asset forfeiture account, which is an account that collects money when police sell confiscated items.

Both items will be mainly used when entering homes. The air packs can hold about 45 minutes of air and are placed on the firefighters' backs. The thermal camera can be used to find people trapped in the blaze and to find hot spots in walls.

Lee Price, chief of the fire department, said the department has needed the equipment very badly, and when necessary, has been borrowing the infrared camera from the Greencastle Fire Department.

"It's a lot easier to do it yourself than call someone out," Price said.

The packs have several features that make it easier to use and more effective at helping the department do its job. It alerts fighters when their air is low through sound and flashing strobe lights that are visible to other firefighters, has a pack sharing system that allows multiple firefighters to breathe from the same air packs and a shorter hose that prevents snagging. The packs also have the PASS system, which alerts other firefighters when the pack has not moved. In a real-life situation, this could mean the firefighter is trapped, injured or out of air and unconscious.

The department has never had a thermal camera before.

Price is happy to have the brand new equipment, as much of the equipment his team uses consists of hand-me-downs from other departments or older, but still effective, models. But Price hopes that with some more money from fundraisers, and help from the community, he can fully replace all the equipment.

"We couldn't do it out here if it weren't for our residents," Lee said.

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