Specialized equipment adds to costs

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The gear has changed a bit since Deputy Chief Michael Rogers became a firefighter.

In the early 1970s, few Richmond County firefighters used an air tank, although they were available.

And then there was the polyester.

"It's changed drastically," Deputy Chief Rogers said. "We used to wear these cotton-polyester blends, and if they got hot enough they could melt right to your skin."

When they're responding to an emergency, Richmond County firefighters are typically wearing or carrying more than $10,000 in clothing and equipment. Most of the expense comes from the fire-retardant clothing and the breathing equipment issued to recruits when they join the department. Keeping the equipment in working condition is a constant problem and expense.

Smoke-filled houses and 100-plus-degree temperatures don't make for the ideal working environment, Deputy Chief Rogers said.

"If they damage something in a fire, we replace it for them, but if they lost it through negligence then they're responsible for it," he said.

Firefighters wear either their uniform or sleepwear during their shift. If they are called to a fire, the emergency equipment, or "bunker gear," is put on over the clothes.

The bunker coat and pants consist of three separate layers that insulate the firefighter from extreme heat.

"The biggest concern for us is the safety of the firefighter and their comfort as well," Deputy Chief Rogers said.

After a year on the job, each firefighter is given a $350 stipend for uniform expenses.

The department, however, foots the bill for any gear replacements and upgrades. Recently, it spent about $650,000 to bring its air tanks into compliance with the National Fire Protection Association standards. Deputy Chief Rogers explained that the new tanks will now emit a loud siren if a firefighter falls and remains down for more than 30 seconds.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.




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christian134
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christian134 05/05/08 - 06:30 am
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They should have the lastest

They should have the lastest gear no matter the cost....They should also have a pay raise that equals them to putting their lives on the line each time they fight a fire....Although there isn't enough money to equal even one of their lives....They are the unsung underpaid heros along with the men and women of the police department...A big thanks to everyone.....

nikitah1986
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nikitah1986 05/05/08 - 07:59 am
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I agree christian134! I am

I agree christian134! I am the fiance of that handsome firefighter in the bunker gear! I believe that it shouldnt matter if they needed $100,000 in gear, they should have it! They risk their lives every single workday for their community and they need the best protection that is availiable! It is so hard being the significant other of a firefighter. Everytime u hear a siren or see smoke, your heart stops but it is good to know that the Augusta Fire Department has provided the best training and the best equiptment for them to do the job successfully! Firefighters are also among the many careers that are severely underpaid for the amount of hours they work, and the type of work they complete!!(along with my career, nursing!) GIVE THEM A RAISE!!!! lol....Seriously, even if Eddie wasnt my fiance, I would still have the upmost respect for firefighters. Not only in my community, but all of the world. Firefighters are our heros!!!!

Yak1
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Yak1 05/05/08 - 08:06 am
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Sadly, like everyone else who

Sadly, like everyone else who is a true hero, they are only recognized when some of them die doing their job. Think about it. For about 6 weeks after 9/11 and maybe a week after Charleston they were recognized for what they do.

christian134
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christian134 05/05/08 - 08:07 am
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You are so correct Yak1 and

You are so correct Yak1 and it is sad....Nikitah1986 let your fiance know that there are some of us that care and say thanks...:-)

Newsreader
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Newsreader 05/05/08 - 08:41 am
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The truth is that none of

The truth is that none of this gear protects them from the largest cause of line of duty deaths, which is Motor Vehicle Crashes. Those are accidents that involve the apparatus responding to calls and sadly Responders being struck by another vehicle while working at a scene. So if you want to do a hero a favor, pull over and stop, out of the way. Also when at an intersection, allow them to move through without crossing, the bigger the machine, the longer it takes to stop. This would also apply to Ambulances and Law Enforcement vehicles. When approaching a scene with emergency vehicles, don’t look at the flashing lights, look where you are going and what is in front of your vehicle. Slow down and look for an officer, or other responder giving traffic directions. This especially true for rural areas, where they are less responders and street lights. The time it takes to slow down and give room to the emergency responders is very minimal, but very important to them and those they are trying to assist. No one calls 911 when they are having a good day. Let the Responders get there and work safely. PS All of the firefighters look better when properly outfitted.

mojo goat
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mojo goat 05/05/08 - 09:43 am
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The sad thing is the

The sad thing is the firefighters are STILL WEARING Cotton/Polyester blend uniforms that will melt to your skin.. apparently Chief Rogers doesn't know what we're wearing..

vrafan
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vrafan 05/07/08 - 09:59 pm
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I agree with the last post.

I agree with the last post. We still wear poly blend uniforms even when a committee asked for cotton uniforms. They only want what is cheap.

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