Tulsa firefighters now have better equipment which will allow them to spend more time rescuing people inside burning homes and buildings. The city spent $3 million for new breathing equipment that is much safer and easier to use.
Station 16 located near 15th and Lewis already has the new devices installed in their trucks. They are clipped in behind the truck's seats, and similar to a backpack, so a firefighter can easily slip them on while riding to a fire.
But the most critical piece of gear is probably this "self-contained breathing apparatus" known as SCBA to firefighters. It allows them to breathe while walking through flames.
"They fit real good, a lot snugger then the other ones, they are a little bit heavier, the bottles a little bigger," said Captain Danny Baker, Tulsa Fire Department.
"Parts were becoming an issue, and the bottles actually went out of compliance," said Captain Stan May, TFD public information officer.
The bigger bottles give them about 10-15 extra minutes inside a fire. When firefighters respond to large fires like one in west Tulsa back in February - that extra time can make all the difference in finding everyone inside.
The new SCBAs also have the latest technology.
"That used to be a big issue, talking on the radio or talking to that person next to you. It distorted it so bad, it was hard to talk to the person next to you in a fire," May said.
"You had to hold the radio right up against your mask to see what they were saying," Baker said.
The better technology also means a better alarm system.
"To let you know you are about out of air, it vibrates on your face," said Captain Danny Baker, TFD. "It used to be a belt that vibrated."
Brackets to hold the larger bottles are being installed in every truck. Firefighters are practicing with new equipment, making sure they know how to use them in the next fire.
The devices are getting installed inside the trucks, all of this week and next. Firefighters have already been trained on how to use them.