June 1, 2007

Howard Lake Fire Department breathes easier with new equipment

Equipment acquired by a gift from Dura Supreme and a grant from FEMA

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

The Howard Lake Fire Department will now be even more effective when fighting fires due to a monetary gift from Dura Supreme that enabled the purchase of a remote air-tank fill station.

The remote fill station, or Cascade System, is a portable unit that the firefighters will use at a fire to refill their self-contained breathing apparatuses, also called air packs, that contain compressed air, according to Howard Lake Fire Department Assistant Chief Steve Halverson.

While fighting fires in the past, firefighters would have to dash back to the fire station to refill air packs, which took time, manpower, and air packs away from the fight.

“Instead of running back to town, we can bring the unit to the fire instead,” said Howard Lake Fire Department Chief Joe Drusch.

From the remote fill station, firefighters will be able to refill three complete sets of air packs, which will save a considerable amount of time and resources.

Plus, the new fill station possesses an air filtration component that the old, stationary system did not have, according to Halverson.

“We became aware of the need the community had for this equipment through some employees that are firefighters and through people we know and trust in the community who are affiliated with our business,” said Steve Michel, a manager at Dura Supreme.

“We want the firefighters to have a good chance in a serious blaze to put the fire out. And we want to protect the safety of the firefighter and reduce potential property damage,” Michel said.

“We’re (Dura Supreme) proud to be in Howard Lake and we want to continue to make the community stronger and saw this as an opportunity to do that,” Michel added.

In addition to the portable fill station, the fire department was able to purchase a stationary Cascade System, that will remain at the firestation.

The stationary system was purchased through grant monies secured by persistent grant submittals to FEMA from Halverson, noted firefighter and EMT Taddy Drusch.

The new stationary system allows for an increased storage capacity of air because the old air tanks held 2,000 psi compressed air, while the new tanks hold 6,000 psi each, according to Taddy.

“With the old system, we would fill 15 bottles and then would need to wait an hour or so for the system to catch up. With the new system, we can fill 100-plus bottles without service interruption,” Taddy said.

“There’s no risk of injury from explosion while filling the bottles (which was a risk with the old system). There’s a lot of safety features, like you can’t over fill or fill too fast, and the new system brought us OSHA-compliant,” Taddy explained.

“If we were to have a major disaster or explosion and had mutual aid from surrounding towns, we could keep filling tanks with no delays,” Joe said.

The Assistance to Firefighters grant paid for the stationary system, and “Dura enhanced our capabilities with the portable system,” Halverson said.

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