After Exhaustive Tests Rye Firemen go over to compressed air
East Sussex, like many of the Local Authority Fire Brigades throughout the Country, have found it necessary to replace their breathing apparatus equipment. After exhaustive tests and experiments with different types, it was decided to equip the fire appliances with compressed air sets and take out of service the ‘Salvus’ and ‘Proto’ oxygen sets.
Rye firemen were first issued with breathing apparatus thirty years ago when members of the Borough Volunteer Fire Brigade complained to the Fire Brigade Committee that their operational equipment left a lot to be desired! After a joint meeting between firemen and councillors, the Borough Council decided to obtain estimates and among other improvements two ‘Salvus’ type oxygen sets were obtained from the manufacturers.
These oxygen sets were based on a closed circuit regenerative system, that is, a pre-determined amount of oxygen passes from a small cylinder through a reducing valve into a breathing bag. Then the wearer is able to inhale through a breathing tube into the mouth by means of a soft rubber mouthpiece and exhale by the same method. A canister containing carbon-dioxide absorbent is incorporated in these sets to ensure that only pure oxygen is inhaled. The disadvantages of the oxygen sets are that they need a lot of maintenance and expert training is required to become efficient in their use.
During the early days, members of the Hastings Fire Brigade came over and gave the local men some instruction and a doctor attended one drill session to test the breathing apparatus wearers to see if any ill effects were caused by their use.
At the beginning of December these well maintained but badly worn pieces of equipment came out of service and two compressed air sets, produced by the same manufacturers, were put ‘on the run’ at Rye Fire Station. This type of apparatus consists of a charge alloy steel cylinder fitted to a duralumin frame to which are attached adjustable shoulder straps and a body belt. The cylinder which is normally charged to a pressure of 1,980 lbs. per square inch, is connected to a main air supply tube which in turn connects to a reducing valve, and into a supply tube to the face mask in which is incorporated a demand valve. This valve is brought into action each time the wearer inhales and as the name implies, only the air demanded by the wearer, according to needs, is passed into the face mask. The advantages of the compressed air sets are their simplicity in use and the minimum of training required to operate one successfully. Maintenance is so easy that no tools are required at all.
New Breathing Apparatus Used for the First Time
The new compressed air breathing apparatus was used for the first time by the Rye Brigade early in the new year to deal with an electrical fire in a house at Point Hill. The firemen reported that they were 100% better than the old oxygen units and they found no difficulty in talking whilst wearing their new equipment.
Rye Fire Brigade Called to Lydd
An extra-ordinary sequence of events took both of the Rye brigade’s appliances to Lydd on the evening of Thursday, 6th January. All units local to Lydd were out on other fire calls when a blaze was reported in a caravan behind a garage in Lydd. The nearest available station not already engaged was Rye, accordingly both pumps were despatched to Lydd where the fire was put out. The caravan was completely destroyed. It is interesting to note that the first Rye Pump was on its way one minute and forty five seconds after the siren had sounded, a fine effort for an evening call
“Rye’s Own” February 1966
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