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Roswell Firefighters Hope for Tool to Escape Danger

Alpharetta firefighters are currently training to use a personal rescue system that lets them use any window frame to escape from a hostile situation, which Roswell would like to have as well.

With the use of a a simple rescue system that lets them use any window frame to get out of a dangerous situation, firefighters in Alpharetta won't need to wait for other personnel to put a ladder up to a window for them to escape an out of control fire anymore - it's a system Roswell would like in their firefighters gear, as well.

"We are also looking at the same device that Alpharetta Fire has purchased," Roswell Fire Chief Ricky Spencer told Roswell Patch in an e-mail.

Spencer said the department has already priced out the "very valuable tool," but is still looking to identify funds for the purchase.

On Tuesday, a group of firefighters in Alpharetta were being trained as trainers so that all 150 active members of the department can learn to use the tool.

Alpharetta is the first fire department in Georgia to use the Sterling F-4 Personal Rescue System by East Coast Rescue Solutions. The city spent $50,000 for 150 of the personal rescue systems, and for training by East Coast personnel.

Each unit is a two-part integrated system designed to save firefighters lives. A firefighter uses a hook to anchor to any windowsill. The rescue rope locking device and zip line are built into the firefighter's bunker gear.

"It kind of gives them that second option of hope if they were in a hostile environment where they had to get out," said Battalion Chief Wes McCall. "Number one priority is if you have a firefighter who's entrapped in an environment that just got hostile, where you cannot get out, your escape route's been blocked or the fire conditions got bad, you need to get yourself out of the window."

The second is to belay down to the ground. That's the mechanism with the handle on it to lower to the ground.

With building construction and apartment and home contents of today, fires escalate quickly, McCall said. "This is in place now to help them escape that."

Up until now, at every fire they put ladders up for firefighters to make their escape.

"But the problem is, when you get to a four and five story building, those ladders are obsolete," he said.

The ropes in the bags are 40 feet long, which is enough to get firefighters out of the situation and not necessarily to the ground, said Chris Minichiello of East Coast Rescue Solutions.

A ladder can't be thrown to every window. So this device is like wearing a ladder on their own belt. No matter what window they are at, they can get out of the window under their own control, Minichiello said. Seconds count, and firefighters don't have time to wait for ladders to be dragged to their window.

Spencer was optimistic about Roswell's eventual purchase of the equipment, saying, "We hope to get this program started in the next 6-9 months."

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