New fire-fighting equipment is like a breath of fresh air for bomberos

Fire fighters are continuing to upgrade their equipment with funds from assessments on insurance policies and electrical receipts.

The latest purchases are 320 self-contained respirators that allow fire fighters to survive in smoky fires, gas escapes and other places where oxygen is in short supply. They are a must for rescues when the fire fighters have to enter burning buildings in search of possible victims.

Each unit cost 2.5 million colons or about $5,000 and has a useful life of 15 years, said the Cuerpo de Bomberos. Each unit has a tank that hold 60 minutes of air. The devices have three alarms to alert fire fighters when the air is low. There is a sound, a visual signal and a vibration.

The devices are being distributed to 73 fire stations in Costa Rica. The older equipment is not being discarded. The older devices are being turned over to the Academia Nacional de Bomberos for training new fire fighters.

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