Petersburg regains breathing equipment that was repossessed last year

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Firefighters in Petersburg will soon be able to breathe a lot easier. The city had some of their breathing equipment repossessed from the fire department last year after federal grant money was misused. Now they’re getting it back.

In his first day on the job, new Fire Chief Dennis Rubin spoke exclusively with 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh. He was happy to report that the city had just made a final payment to receive the new self-contained breathing apparatus.

“The update from just from a few minutes ago, the last payment was made in full so the self-contained breathing apparatus, MSA stands for Mind-Safety Appliance will be arriving extremely shortly,” Rubin said.

These units are vital pieces of safety equipment needed to help firefighters breathe inside of a burning building.

“That protects a firefighter inside of a burning building and allows them to go either extinguish the fire or rescue a victim,” Rubin said.

This news is welcomed to the men whose boots are on the ground when a fire rages.

“To get these new air packs I think is going to be a big morale boost for the department, the guys are going to be excited about it,” said Brett Martin, Vice-President of the Petersburg Professional Firefighters Association.

Last year, an 8News Investigation uncovered the packs currently in service were blamed for multiple complaints of equipment malfunction that resulted in injuries to firefighters.

“I hope that it is a great morale booster,” Rubin said. “I would like to say that I’ll be the advocate of all the firefighters, but it’s well beyond that, that type of equipment is needed for us to keep our members safe, for us to be in compliance with the law.”

The packs we’re told will be arriving very soon, training on the new equipment has already begun.

As for the new fire trucks and police cars that the city has been trying to purchase, they have had issues securing financing but we’re told there will likely be an update to that at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

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