Machine a breath of fresh air for BFD

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

New things are always fun, but new equipment is a breath offresh air to the Brookhaven Fire Department.

Firefighters this week have been learning to refill theirairpacks on a new air compressor. It replaces one that has beenwith the department for over 30 years.

“This is still a learning process for all of us,” said Capt.Buddy Thibodeaux of learning the new procedure. “This newerequipment is more updated than the stuff we’ve had for 25 years. Ifeel like it’s a great benefit that we haven’t had in thepast.”

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The packs provide breathable air when firefighters enter smokingor burning buildings.

Fire department officials said the new machine, which cost thecity around $30,000, was desperately needed. The old compressorwouldn’t completely fill updated air bottles, and would only fillone bottle at a time.

“We’re all going to the new 45-minute airpacks,” said ShiftCapt. Marty Beeson. “The old compressor was just worn out.”

Shift Capt. Darrell Davis agreed, saying the old compressor wasa good machine in its day, but that the new one would be a greatasset.

“The old one was fine for its time,” he said. “The concern wasthat it was well used up and the new one has a better capacity forfilling more bottles in less time.”

The older compressor could fill one 30-minute bottle at a time,but the new one can fill two bottles at once.

Firefighters estimated that the old machine could fill one22-minute bottle in about 10-15 minutes if the compressor wasfresh. But if it had been working for a while, it could take aslong as 45 minutes to fill a 22-minute bottle.

The new compressor can fill two 45-minute bottles in less thantwo minutes, firefighters said.

And in their business, time is of the essence.

Thibodeaux said it’s not only helpful logistically, but it alsohelps mentally to know there’s help around the corner in case of anair crunch.

“I feel so much more confident that we can fill an airpack in somuch less time than we’ve been doing it,” he said.