Columbia firefighters deploy brand new air packs

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department unveiled its new equipment on Friday, including gear that will help keep firefighters more safe.

The new, upgraded air packs allow firefighters to enter smoky or hazardous conditions without risking chemical exposure.

Lieutenant Duncan Delwyn has worked for Columbia Fire Department almost 17 years, and said that the update of air packs is a great improvement.

"I believe one of the greatest improvements of the new air packs is the ability to find a firefighter who goes down inside the structure fire," Delwyn said.

Columbia Fire Department Chief Randy White said these new devices bring several improvements.

The most important upgrades include improved shoulder strap design, enhanced fire ground communications through the new AV-3000 HT face piece, a new external 'heads up display' and increased air tank capacity resulting in greater escape time capability.

Delwyn said that the basic concept of the air pack has not changed, but there are a lot of adjustments in electronics of the pack itself.

One of it is the path tracker, which informs the team where a firefighter is when they ask for help in a fire.

The Columbia Fire Department used acquired grants to equip the firefighters.

They got the grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which paid roughly $435,000 to replace the almost 10-year-old packs.