By Alexis R. Milan
The Belize National Fire Service, on Tuesday, received over $80,000 worth of new equipment with the assistance of the Ministry of Labour to help the department improve its ability to contain and control fires around the country.
According to Benisford Matura, Belize National Fire Service operations officer, the new equipment will be a big help to improve the efficiency of the service it provides. Matura said the equipment will be distributed to different stations in different parts of the country.
Included in the new inventory of equipment are 31 breathing apparatus (BA) cylinders, Matura said, which are used by fire-fighters when entering burning buildings or carrying out operations in smoke-thick conditions.
The cylinders don’t include the harnesses, which are used to hold them in place, because the department has those in stock.
Matura explained that the BA cylinders have a life-span of about five years of use before they wear out and need to be replaced.
The department also received a portable pump, which on its own is valued at around $20,000. Matura said the pump is used in situations when there are open sources of water and the fire truck cannot get close enough to the source to pump water to the truck. It is carried by man power, he said, and will most likely be sent to the San Pedro Fire Station.
The new equipment also includes a new set of fire hoses made of canvas, rather than the rubber hoses being used currently.
According to Matura, the fire service is testing a sample of the canvas hoses so they have only gotten 10 of them to see how they perform in emergency situations. The service may consider getting more later.
Matura said the advantage the canvas hoses have over the rubber hoses is that they do not expand under pressure and are more durable. Along with the hoses, the fire department also received new nozzles as well.
The department also received forceable-entry tools to use in situations where a fire may be in progress and no-one is at home or where someone may be trapped inside their home.