FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Some of the most crucial equipment for a firefighter is his or her “turnout gear” — which can range from simply the cloth uniform, to heavy duty protective clothing designed to resist flames.
Thursday morning, firefighters in Fall River received new turnout gear from the city in a presentation at the fire department headquarters — 104 sets, said Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, reeling off the list: helmet, fire coat, bunker pants and suspenders, gloves, and fire boots. “The latest and best technology, and it’s going to keep our guys safe,” he added.
Less than a year ago, the mayor had joined in a workshop with firefighters to see the job’s dangers first-hand. At that time, union representatives pointed out that some of the gear was aged. Thursday, Some of the old stuff was modeled — and its flagging aspects pointed out, including tears and worn stitching, which reduce effectiveness in protecting from fire and heat.
Each new set of gear cost about $2,500, Correia said: “Before today, that cost was actually absorbed and paid by the firefighters themselves,” a policy which other communities have abandoned. A FEMA grant helped make the purchase.
The city’s fire chief, John Lynch, extended gratitude on behalf of the department to the mayor and city councilwoman Pamela Lebeau for their roles in the equipment acquisition.