BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. (WSPA) — You can’t put a price on what firefighters do when there’s an emergency, but there is quite a cost to pay before they get there.
The Boiling Springs Fire Chief says it costs nearly $24,000 for a single firefighter.
“Most people don’t deal in this particular product or this particular atmosphere,” according to Chief Scott Miller. “They have no idea as to what this cost – and we start telling them – they’re like, ‘oh, wow. That’s where our money goes.'”
The costs start with boots which can run from $200 to as high as $400.
“The boots provide a protective layer not only from underneath and the thermal and fire,” Miller tells 7NEWS. “But they have a metal shank on the bottom. So, if you step on nails or sharp objects, it doesn’t penetrate your foot.”
Firefighters have two sets of gloves – the cost is about $100 each – and a Nomex hood to protect their neck and face from the intense heat of flames. That’s about $50.
Miller calls the pants and coat the “bread and butter” of firefighting gear. Those suits can run around $3,500 and are expensive because they contain multiple layers of fabric.
“(People) think it’s one big coat, it’s actually three different layers that protect us not only from the fire in the hot air, but we put fire out with water turns into steam it keeps the steam from penetrating the coat.”
Here are some of the other costs:
Miller said it can range from $300 to $800.
“You have got to remember we asked you to crawl out of your house. In theory, we should be crawling in with our head down. So, we’re going to bump into walls and chairs and ceilings are going to fall and things like that. So having that helmet is vital to us.”
A Kenwood Portable Radio costs about $5,200.
“We issue all our firefighters with a radio, not just any radio,” according to the chief. “But a multiband radio so we can talk to EMS and the sheriff’s office at the same time.”
SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus)
A SCBA unit, mask and spare cylinder have a price tag of around $12,500.
Miller told us the cylinders have pressurized breathing air so firefighters can breathe while not inhaling smoke or other toxins.
“The initial training is about 250 to 300 hours to get to the firefighter to level where you’re an interior firefighter,” according to the chief.
Firefighter 2 training is $1,000
“OSHA requires every firefighter to have a medical evaluation prior to entering a fire atmosphere to make sure that their lungs are in good shape the body is in good shape.” The cost is about $400.
Chief Miller said that adds up to $23,575 for a single firefighter. Each department normally has at least 25 firefighters which would make the total cost around $590,000 to outfit them to safe standards.
“That doesn’t include the hazmat gear, the bulletproof vests for violent incidents or any of the other equipment,” Chief Miller said.
“We really need to get five to 10 years out of them (each firefighter) to get our investment back, because the investment is initial and upfront with gear, training and the time and everything that we put into it.”