UNION, NJ – Union firefighters are continuing to train with their new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment, recently received by the department, funded in large part by a FEMA grant.

Union Fire Captain Richard Fretz said each face mask is fit tested to ensure a correct fit.  “The masks are sized to each firefighter to confirm there are no leaks and that they fit the fireman’s face correctly.”

Fretz said the new equipment is more comfortable and technologically more advanced than the previous equipment, which reached its 10-15 year lifespan.  He said the new equipment has bluetooth technology.  “This is all about firefighter safety and air management,” said Fretz.  “This new equipment sends data so we know exactly how much air a firefighter has remaining, we can communicate directly with firefighters through the equipment, and there are better lights and alarms built in.”

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Fretz said an average air tank has about 30 minutes of air; 20 minutes with extreme physical exertion, such as when fighting a fire.  He said the new equipment distributes the weight of the apparatus better, “so it should require less effort and be less strenuous to use.”  Fretz said the eleven recruits currently in training at the county’s Linden fire training center are in the process of training with the new equipment as well.

In October 2020, the Township Committee approved an appropriation of $653,749 for the acquisition of the new equipment.  Of that cost, $478,332 was funded via a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.