WORTHINGTON, W.Va. – Firefighters in Worthington are better prepared to handle structure fires and rescues thanks to new state of the art equipment.  

Costing a total of $150,987, the department got 12 new self-contained breathing apparatus backpacks after getting a grant from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighter program. The backpacks have a mask connected to an oxygen tank so that firefighters don’t breathe in smoke. The backpacks also have a microphone that’s connected to the mask so they can hear each other better when on scene of a fire with thick smoke. 

Long time Worthington firefighter wearing new backpacks (WBOY Image)

Firefighters will also be able to rescue people from structure fires better with the thermal camera attached to one of the straps. Most fire departments have a handheld thermal camera – with these backpacks every firefighter on scene has one. 

“You can look in total darkness or see through smoke conditions to find heat signatures to either rescue a victim or find your way in and out of a building,” Chris McIntire, chief of the Worthington Fire Department said about the thermal cameras.  

Thermal camera on backpack (WBOY Image)

The fire department can use money from the tax levies in Marion County for new equipment. However, backpacks like these are so expensive, they applied for the grant to get them.  

“We apply for every grant we could possibly get,” Chief McIntire said. “We just replaced a fire hose from the 1970s and it makes it a safety issue for us when we have equipment that’s old and failing so we have to take every opportunity we’ve got to find funding wherever we can get it to keep improving to keep our people safe and to protect the citizens.” 

The backpack also has a panic button. If a firefighter goes down, they can push the alarm so others can follow the sound to get to them to help if conditions are too bad to see during a fire.