BY STARRLA CRAY
WINSTED, MN In about two months, the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department will have 22 new sets of turnout gear, one for each member.
The protective equipment, which cost $40,810, was approved during a special Winsted City Council meeting Jan. 28.
Fire Chief Chad Engel said the new gear will keep the department in line with standards from the National Fire Protection Association.
“I found out at a fire chiefs’ meeting that turnout gear has a 10-year lifespan . . . our gear is approximately 15 years old,” Engel said.
According to Globe, a manufacturer of turnout gear, “NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, requires that structural turnout gear shall be retired when the garment is beyond repair and no longer able to pass an NFPA 1851 Advanced Inspection, or 10 years from date of manufacture, whichever comes first. For proximity clothing, reflective outer shells have a mandatory retirement date of five years from date of manufacture.”
The $40,810 quote from Ultimate Safety Concepts in Rochester is about $3,000 less than was budgeted for turnout gear in 2016. The fire department’s capital equipment budget is funded by the fire relief association, which contributes about $15,000 each year.
Firefighters are being fitted today for the gear, which is made by Innotex and includes Kevlar belts.
Council Member Tom Ollig asked if the gear can be resized to fit new members if firefighters retire.
Engel said it can’t be re-tailored, but could be reused if the new member wears a similar size. If a suit is not being used, it will be stored at the fire hall.
Winsted’s current set of firefighting gear is an “on the shelf” style, Engel said, but isn’t ideal because the knee and elbow supports aren’t always in the right place for each person.
City Administrator Dan Tienter noted that the fire department’s budget includes funds for additional turnout gear in future years, as needed.