New HAZ­MAT, res­cue gear com­ing for Rock­mart fire­fight­ers

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By KEVIN MYRICK Ed­i­tor

New gear for Rock­mart fire­fight­ers to use on their res­cue truck and when go­ing to chem­i­cal spills or when clear­ing out metham­phetamine labs is com­ing soon as the shelf life ends for what the Fire Depart­ment car­ries cur­rently.

Polk County Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved $28,000, or half the to­tal $56,000 cost over­all for new equip­ment, which also in­cluded a new air com­pres­sor to fill up the tanks used by haz­mat teams when they don their suits, or fire­fight­ers when they put on breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus and head into fires.

Rock­mart Fire Chief Todd Queen said that all the items be­ing pur­chased with funds from Polk County and the City of Rock­mart is part of a con­tin­ued agree­ment that keeps the two fire depart­ments run­ning.

For in­stance, when­ever a car wreck oc­curs within the un­in­cor­po­rated parts of Polk County on the east side of Fish Creek, the Rock­mart Fire Depart­ment’s res­cue truck re­sponds with equip­ment used to get driver and pas­sen­gers out of a ve­hi­cle. Lift bags are one of the top items on the list of re­place­ment equip­ment for the res­cue truck, used mainly to lift cars and trucks off of each other when a wreck hap­pens, or to help free any trapped peo­ple within.

Queen said the shelf life from the man­u­fac­tur­ers for the lift bags was 10 years when pre­vi­ously pur­chased, and the new mod­els are now es­ti­mated to last 18 years.

Also on the re­place­ment list were new HAZ­MAT suits and the breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus within, which are only set to last five years at a time af­ter re­peated use.

Rock­mart fire­fight- ers are at the mo­ment the only ones within the county who can re­spond to chem­i­cal spills or other po­ten­tial haz­ards caused by wrecks, or in­dus­trial ac­ci­dents, or through il­le­gal drug man­u­fac­tur­ing.

They re­spond to all events within the county in aid agree­ments with Polk County Fire and the Cedar­town Fire depart­ments, and thus was one of the top items on his list to re­place in the lat­est round of pur­chases.

He also said it was im­por­tant to up­grade the air com­pres­sor the fire depart­ment uses to en­sure their breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus have enough sup­plies in them to keep HAZ­MAT suit users com­fort­able while they work in dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions.

“The one we had pre­vi­ously would do the job, but just barely,” Queen said. “And over the years, the com­pres­sor was pur­chased prior to the haz­mat pro­gram ini­ti­ated in 2006.”

The $28,000 ap­proved by the county com­mis­sion will be funded out of the 2014 Special Pur­pose, Lo­cal Op­tion Sales Tax fund.

Rock­mart is also re­quired to put up $28,000 for the pur­chases.

A mem­ber of the Rock­mart Fire Depart­ment’s HAZ­MAT team goes to­ward an Aragon house where a meth lab was be­lieved to have been found on Aug. 30. Gear like this keeps fire­fight­ers safe from the dan­gers of chem­i­cal spills, drug labs and more, but they...

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