Fire crews arrived to find a unit well alight and windows blown out at Cooks Hill early Wednesday morning. They bravely entered the blaze to ensure no residents were inside.
The smoke was so thick an elderly female in an upstairs apartment was fitted with an extension face mask off a firefighter’s breathing apparatus to be safely evacuated. Due to the quick actions of fire crews, no one was injured in the fire.
New breathing apparatus used by Fire Rescue NSW firefighters has been recalled due to a leak from the demand valve, which can cause the air carried in a cylinder on the firefighters’ back to rapidly deplete.
Newcastle Hazmat firefighters have worked for weeks to service, test and distribute older sets throughout the state.
Breathing apparatus, an essential piece of safety equipment, were not introduced until the 1980s.
Retired firefighter Ernie Hillard said when he joined in 1954 they used a ‘smoke helmet’.
Air was supplied to the firefighter from a hose outside, that was operated by a foot bellows. As this was so cumbersome, it was phased out and instead firefighters used a piece of wet rubber foam, which they placed in their mouths to breathe through.
Prior to this, firefighters were required to grow a beard, which they would wet and put into their mouths when entering a fire.
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