By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City firefighters put their lives on the line when duty calls. And when they are out there battling a blaze or responding to an accident, their equipment has to be in full working order.
City Council is expected to approve a contract at Thursday night’s meeting to help firefighters in their duties. The department is seeking new firefighter protective clothing and equipment to ensure that the emergency responders have the best apparatus possible to help keep them safe.
The safety gear would be purchased from a vendor for a total of $474,707. It would include self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air packs, software, SCBA air cylinders, protective clothing and other pieces of equipment.
Fire Chief Jim Smith was not available for comment Wednesday. But in a memo to the city dated Feb. 2, he spoke of the need for and importance of purchasing 45 new self-contained breathing apparatus.
Smith wrote a memo in support of the purchase of the breathing apparatus air packs and 46 SCBA air cylinders.
“These air packs are vital to the safety of our personnel. The air packs have multiple safety features built into the frame that is worn on the firefighter’s upper torso,” Smith wrote. “The air cylinders connect to the air pack frames and provide breathing air via a face mask to allow the firefighter to operate in an immediate dangerous to life or health situation.”
He noted that the purchase will outfit the entire department. The lifespan of the air packs is 20 years and the air cylinders is 15 years, he said.
The Ocean City Fire Department employs about 60 firefighters to help protect the 11,000 year-round residents in a town spanning seven miles. The population swells to about 150,000 visitors during the height of the tourism season.
There are three fire stations: the headquarters is located at 550 Asbury Ave., Fire Station No. 2 at 2901 West Ave. and Fire Station No. 3 at 4508 West Ave.