New gear is expected to better protect firefighters with one Newark fire company from the heat.
The Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company is one of the busiest fire companies in all of Delaware. Their territory covers about 25 square miles in Newark and surrounding communities.
Fire officials were joined by U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Congressman John Carney Monday morning to celebrate a $111,000 FEMA grant, through the Assistance to Firefighters program.
Aetna Chief A.J. Schall said the money will be used to purchase 40 complete sets of new protection gear for firefighters. “This will help protect and outfit our members with the best possible thermal protection out there,” Schall said.
That protection is needed more than ever. Because of advancements in energy efficient construction methods and materials, firefighters often face greater danger.
Schall said the materials that are designed to keep homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer also make the heat from a house fire more intense.
“Buildings burn faster, they burn hotter,” Schall said. “You look at new energy pane windows, new roofing material, the heat stays inside of these buildings longer, unlike older construction. With that, our members are subject to [temperatures] much hotter than they would see 20 to 30 years ago.”
Schall said the department typically purchases 10 to 20 new sets of gear every year. A new set of firefighter protective gear has a life span of about five years.