Equipment is now being delivered, inventoried and assembled.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- Training will begin in about two weeks to qualify Trumbull County firefighters to rescue victims in collapsed buildings and construction trench sites.
The Howland Fire Department has purchased a 33-foot-long trailer that will be packed with a variety of life-saving equipment.
Fire Chief George Brown said a tractor, a trailer to haul it, equipment and training are being funded by a $312,830 grant from the county commissioners that was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The equipment and training will allow firefighters to rescue those trapped in construction site trenches or from collapsed buildings.
Brown said Tuesday that the Trench Rescue and Confined Space Team will be trained by the first of the year.
"We'll be fully equipped and ready to go," said John Barauskas, Howland assistant fire chief who is coordinating the effort with Chris Streamo, a part-time Howland firefighter and full-time lieutenant on the Youngstown Air Reserve Station Fire Department in Vienna.
Currently, equipment is being delivered, inventoried and assembled, Streamo explained.
Barauskas said the equipment is compatible with similar rescue teams in the area that may be called to an emergency to help the local team.
The trailer will be packed with power tools, ropes, compressed air containers to run cutting tools, communications equipment, generators, lights, cutting torches and harnesses to extract victims.
It will also have a device that can detect if electric lines have live current running through them from the opposite side of a wall.
"It makes it a little bit safer," Barauskas said of the danger in dealing with electric lines.
Brown explained that the fire department lacked sufficient equipment in 1984 when a man was trapped in a collapsed trench along a state Route 46 construction site. The worker died.
Meeting national standards
In 1990, the department bought a small trailer and some tools for rescues. The equipment is being hauled to the scene in a fire rescue truck.
Brown said that in 2004 Barauskas put together a grant application so the equipment and training was compatible with state and federal standards.
With the $312,830 grant in hand, a trailer that can hold 36,000 pounds of equipment was ordered. It was delivered Aug. 9.
Barauskas said he contacted similar teams from as far away as Florida and Georgia to determine what was needed to outfit it. He noted the purchases were $14,000 under budget -- money that will be used for training.
Brown said the team will require 20 to 30 members because of the manning needed to handle a construction site emergency. Brown wants the training available to firefighters throughout the county because each department has limited staffing.
"It keeps us from being strained during an incident," the fire chief said.