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Lackawanna Firefighters raise concerns over old equipment

Posted at 6:47 PM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-09 22:07:02-05

Lackawanna Firefighter, Jason Spzara said outdated breathing equipment could be putting his fellow firefighters at risk.

He said Lackawanna Fire Department has a shortage of fire breathing masks. At least nine firefighters are using masks that were once used by retired firefighters.

Another problem is a shortage of self containing breathing apparatus. Firefighters use SCBA packs to breath clean air while inside burning structures. The City of Lackawanna has 49 firefighters, but only 20 SCBA packs. Spazara said this is a very important tool. It can sometimes be the deciding factor between life and death for firefighters.

"Without this equipment we will be breathing in all the chemicals, the smoke, and this is our first line in defense to protect us against that," Spzara said.

Firefighters say they have been pushing for new equipment for years. This issue of old equipment grew when they had to battle the Bethlehem Steel Plant fire in November. There weren't enough breathing equipment for all the firefighters who were called to the scene. Some had to borrow breathing filters from the Buffalo Fire Department. Even some of the Buffalo Fire Department equipment was outdated.

With firefighters being more at risk of getting cancers, Spzara said he's mainly concerned about the masks that are more than 20 years old and falling apart. He's also concerned about the breathing filters which have already past expiration dates.

Firefighters have approached the city council about buying new equipment. Councilwoman, Annette Iafallo told 7 Eyewitness News that an agreement between the fire chief and the city attorney must be met before any purchases are made. Calls made to the fire chief by 7 Eyewitness News were not returned and the city's attorney declined to comment.