Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg, 745 4th St., Sparks
General Business: 6.2
Background: The Fire Department currently has an inventory of 76 SCBA units, which are assigned to all fire apparatus. Each member of the department is issued a mask and regulator to be used in conjunction with the SCBA unit, and all units also have a 30 minute air cylinder. These SCBA components are used for all structure fire and hazardous material operations. Spare 60 minute cylinders are used during special operations requiring long-duration assignments, for example rescue and hazmat. The age of all units is 14 years, and maintenance and minor component failures have increased in recent years. Also, each unit is out of compliance with NFPA 1981. Because of increased maintenance, component failures, and compliance issues the Fire Department is faced with replacement of these units within the next few years in order to reduce the chances of a catastrophic failure. To address this concern, the Fire Department submitted an AFG application in December 2013. The Department was notified that they had been awarded the grant, and issued a 30 period in which to accept it.
The SCBA is arguably the single most important piece of safety equipment that a firefighter relies on during structure fire and hazardous material incidents. Based on a person’s location and assignment within a structure fire or hazardous materials incident, a catastrophic SCBA failure could lead to severe injuries, disability, or a possible fatal accident. All SBCA units in our inventory are currently 14 years old.
Although no catastrophic failures have occurred, minor component failures have increased to both the units (hardware, straps, buckles, etc.) and facemasks (straps, face seal tearing, face lens cracking, etc.). The unit’s reducer (the component that reduces air pressure from 4,500 psi to approximately 100 psi for usability) has also incurred failures while on the test bench, which requires the need for a complete rebuild of the reducer. Not only are these failures and maintenance problems expensive for the department (approximately $10,000 – $15,000 per year), but are also time consuming for SCBA technicians (the department has four current personnel trained as SCBA repair technicians). The increase in maintenance and minor component failures could also be indicators of a catastrophic failure in the near future.
The standard covering SCBA is NFPA 1981. Since the purchase of the Department’s units in 2000, three (3) updates to this standard have occurred with all updates essentially addressing safety improvements. Below is a brief summary of the safety improvements covered by these updated standards:
• Inclusion of a RIT fitting – allows for rapid cylinder refill in the field to extend rescue time for downed fire personnel
• Inclusion of a Heads-Up Display – this is a set of LED lights mounted on the facemask to provide a visual indicator of the air remaining in the cylinder
• Changed the low air alarm activation point – to allow greater time for personnel to depart the interior of a building the low air alarm will activate at 33% remaining air rather than 25%
• Upgrades to the regulator diaphragm to be CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) resistant
• Inclusion of a GPS unit on the pack – to assist in tracking personnel on the fire ground and locating lost firefighters in a building
• Improved radio interfacing – to improve communications while wearing a facemask
• Improvements in mask design – current inventory of masks will not be supported in the future
Because of these safety improvements, FEMA has designated all units 10 years old or greater as “obsolete” (This definition was provided in the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – 2013 Grant Program Overview which stated, “In order to be considered “obsolete” PPE/ SCBA must be 10 years or 2 NFPA cycles old. 2002 standard or older is the highest priority.”) The Fire Department must replace these SCBA within the next year.
Strength of the Analysis: The acceptance of this grant and subsequent purchase of new SCBA will ensure firefighter safety is maintained and protected, enabling the fire department to positively affect outcomes. It should also be noted that if this grant funding is not accepted, the SCBA will need replacement in the next year and require a new needs budget request of approximately $500,000 from the general fund.
Weakness of the Analysis: Acceptance of the grant commits the City to assume responsibility for a 10% grant match, amounting to $51,683.
Alternatives: 1. Council can reject the acceptance of the grant award. This alternative will only delay the cost associated with replacement of the SCBA, and result in the entire cost to be covered by the City. 2. Council can approve acceptance of the grant award.
Recommended Motion: I move to accept the FEMA 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant award.
2013 AFG Application - Complete.pdf