Ottawa Fire sets standard for new breathing apparatus

A number of fire departments in the Ottawa region will follow suit when the City of Ottawa replaces their fire fighters' breathing apparatus in May.

It takes expertise and costs a lot of money to conduct rigorous testing on new equipment, and while Ottawa Fire has the capability to do it, smaller fire departments, like the one at the airport, and even the ones in Kemptville and Cornwall do not.

"When the City of Ottawa initiates these evaluations through their procurement process, it certainly does help the smaller municipalities in the fact that we may not have the expertise or the resources," said Chief Paul Hutt with the North Grenville Fire Service. "Utilizing the information that the City of Ottawa has gathered through their project, certainly helps us in making our educated and informed decisions."

He said having similar equipment also helps them work together to tackle blazes.

"It also standardizes the equipment, so when we get called together and work together, the equipment is standardized from one municipality to the other."

The City of Ottawa received $5-million spread between the 2013 and 2014 budgets to replace breathing apparatus for hundreds of their fire fighters. The Self Contained Breathing Apparatus consist of an oxygen tank, mask and communication system.

Many neighbouring fire departments have signed a mutual aid partnership with Ottawa, that allows them to help each other out.

"We have the ability to do the field test and the research behind what would be best for our department, so when we issued our request for proposals, included in that was the ability of our local city partners and our local mutual aid partners in the area to purchase and take advantage of the volume discount that we would get due to our size," said Dave Thompson, Ottawa Fire's Deputy Assistant Deputy Chief of Operations.

Thompson added, they had also met with the City of Gatineau, which may also jump on board.

"If we can put it in terms of purchasing 12 or 20 SCBAs, Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, versus 1,000, certainly when it comes to a budgetary perspective, they'll be definitely some cost savings," said Hutt.

While Hutt's department doesn't need to upgrade their equipment for another three years, they'll be able to get the purchase price for the next decade.

"As we work collectively together with our neighbouring municipalities and fire services, I think we're all looking at ways to create efficiencies and how we can help each other out," he said.

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