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New firefighting equipment launches today in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes

New firefighting equipment launches today in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes

Investing in our most valuable asset, our people!

From today, firefighters across Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will begin wearing new breathing apparatus (BA) sets, the vital life-preserving equipment which is almost as iconic and recognisable as the fire engines themselves!

Firefighter holding white boxes with Interspiro written.

The roll out of the Interspiro sets form part of our ongoing commitment to ensure our crews have the best equipment, to enable them to provide the best response to our communities.

BA was worn by BFRS firefighters at more than 450 incidents in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023) and is one of the key pieces of equipment used by firefighters when responding to emergency incidents.

The 156 new sets, made up of body-shaped shoulder straps, hip belt, backplate and oxygen cylinders are used alongside supporting equipment to ensure firefighters can breathe when tackling fires or entering hazardous environments.

The supporting equipment also rolled out today includes:

  • 400 personal issue facemasks made from the latest, technologically advanced chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear certified material.
  • 394 nine litre, 300 bar working pressure (WP), air cylinders of composite construction with a non-metallic liner, quick connect adapters and covers.
  • 37 telemetry enabled entry control boards (ECBs), with new covers and tripods which enable crews to monitor progress and welfare of those wearing BA.
  • 170 bluetooth communication system which enables those wearing BA to communicate clearly with each other, with a casualty at a scene, and with officers outside the incident wirelessly.

The contract with Interspiro is part of a wider Thames Valley Collaboration which aims to deliver full interoperability at incident grounds across Thames Valley.

As part of the tendering process, operational firefighters from this service, alongside our Thames Valley partners, took part in a rigorous and through practical evaluation, in which multiple BA sets were tested for ease of use and operability.

Participants from On-Call and Wholetime stations braved sweltering temperatures during the height of Summer 2021 to support the evaluation process, which saw the Interspiro sets coming top with users, largely as a result of its robust, light-weight harness which proved fully adjustable to meet the requirements of a diverse workforce.

Since the tender results were announced, an extensive programme of work has been undertaken, requiring the support of many functions across this service, in collaboration with their colleagues in Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire. This has included procurement, training, fleet, health and safety and equipment teams, not to mention the crews themselves.

Adam Burch, Group Commander Technical and lead officer for the BA project, said:

“Today we are celebrating the launch of our latest investment in our most valuable asset, our people.

“BA is a fundamental part of a firefighters’ inventory when responding to incidents and is carried on all our operational appliances. The new sets, alongside the associated modern, fit for purpose, supporting equipment ensures our firefighters are in the best position to provide you with the best response should you need it.

“Today’s launch of the new BA sets on our appliances is the culmination of many months of hard work by so many members of staff, who should all be congratulated for helping to efficiently deliver such a complex programme of work.

“All operational staff have undertaken training, familiarisation and kit fitting. Our vehicle technician team have made stowage modifications to our appliances so they can carry the new kit securely, and the training and policy teams have helped create e-learning and guidance packages detailing each aspect of the new equipment.

“The BA collaborative contract is worth a total of £1,768,468 across the three services. The collaborative procurement process delivered a total joint cost avoidance saving of £532,178, with an individual saving to BFRS of £187,239 for the first year. It is a large amount of money, but when it comes to our most valuable assets, our people, I’m sure you will agree that it is a worthy investment.”

BFRS is the second of the three services to go live with the new sets, and this milestone marks a significant achievement in the three-year project which will ultimately see the same equipment used by firefighters in each of the three Thames Valley Services.

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