Grant Money Used to Purchase Meter for Firefighters

Kittanning Hose Company #1 Assistant Chief Brandon Kilgore holds the new gas detection meter in his hand. Its charging, calibration docking station is in the background.

Kittanning Hose Company #1 received a new piece of equipment to add to their arsenal.

A special meter that detects four different types of dangerous gases was purchased through a grant from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.

Assistant Chief Brandon Kilgore said he completed the application several months ago.

“They asked for an application, general info, and how many gas calls we respond to in a year,” Kilgore said. “The grant was up to $4,000. The meter cost $3,380 so we didn’t have to pay anything. The grant paid for the entire cost of the meter. It included the case for the meter and a charging and calibration docking system that sits on our desk in the garage.”

Firefighters will carry it into a building after they are done fighting a structure fire to determine if it is safe to breathe without their faceplate breathing apparatus. It is also used when someone calls in and says they smell gas in their house.

“The docking station charges the battery in the meter and calibrates the meter by subjecting it to a small amount of gas,” Kilgore said. “The unit automatically calibrates it after use or once a month. That way, it’s always ready for use.”

The fire department has an older meter, but it doesn’t detect all the types of gases that the new one is able to do. Prior to getting the new unit and the docking station, the older unit had to be sent out for calibration to another station that has a docking station.

“There is a bottle of gas that is contained on the docking station. It puts gas into the meter to make sure the meter is reading it properly. It calibrates the meter internally to make sure it is safe to take into a house,” Kilgore said. The gas bottle lasts approximately a year, and costs $200 to replace.

Fire Chief Gene Stephens said that each year, the fire department responds to approximately 30 calls for the smell of gas in buildings in the borough.

“Our run sheets keep getting bigger and bigger,” Stephens said. “Our call volume has increased.”

Stephens said the new meter will also be included in the inspection next year when the fire department is reviewed for their ISO status.

“They review response times, coverage, what types and age of equipment you have, and written logs. We are writing everything down that we do. The ISO inspector will want to see written documentation,“ Stephens said.