Big Sandy VFD's new SCBA gear. Standing EMS Captain Bradlee DeCuir and Assistant Chief Steven Winchell; kneeling Chief Jeff Jones and Fireman Chad DeCuir.

Entering the hostile environment of a burning building is extremely dangerous, but a recent purchase by the Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department has made it a little safer. Ten Scott SCBA packs – self-contained breathing apparatus – were received last week, replacing the meager four packs that were twenty-five years old. The replacements are actually five years old, but have been refurbished to new status, tested and certified good for ten years.

Not only are these packs newer, but the bottles are much lighter in weight and hold more air. The older aluminum bottles weighed approximately thirty-five pounds and provided only twenty-five minutes of air. The replacements are made of a carbon fiber, weigh about fifteen pounds, and provide forty-five minutes of air. The twenty-pound difference in bottle weight is significant because when you add the weight of bunker gear, breathing is even more difficult. Another safety feature is the pass alarms which emit a very loud noise if the firemen are motionless, making them much easier to find if injured.

All this equipment comes at a hefty price, but always mindful of budget constraints, Chief Jeff Jones and the board members purchased this life-saving equipment at what could only be described as a great bargain. New, each pack would cost $6,000 and would have only one oxygen bottle; however, total price for this purchase was $13,500 – savings of $46,500. Plus, along with the ten packs and ten masks, the price included two bottles for each pack.

The equipment was purchased with money from this year’s fundraiser ($6,500) and from their regular budget ($7,000). Chief Jones stated that the members of the BSVFD were very appreciative of the support from the community. Participation in the fundraisers and through the $4 collected through the water billings makes it possible for them to buy and maintain equipment needed to keep them safe.

Reporter’s note: The Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department is one of the best in our area, both in equipment and in man-power. Their constant efforts in training, education, and good working relationship with surrounding agencies make them invaluable to our community. They not only literally “come to our rescue,” during fires and medical emergencies, but they also contribute to lower homeowner insurance premiums. Please continue to support them.