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San Diego Firefighters, Foundation Seek Funds For Life-Saving Equipment

San Diego Firefighters, Foundation Seek Funds For Life-Saving Equipment

San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation and the fire department aim to raise $580,000 for a piece of equipment they say could save the life of a trapped first responder.

Being trapped in fire with no way out is a terrifying prospect, San Diego Fire Capt. J. Harris said.

“First thing that starts to burn is your ears, you start to have that feeling. Anywhere on your shoulders, and the back of your neck” Harris said.


The department says the current escape kit for trapped first responders is large, heavy and takes up to five minutes to deploy. The large orange bag weighs more than 30 pounds with 50 feet of rope and equipment. Firefighters need to carry it upstairs with them should they become trapped.

Harris demonstrated how difficult it is to pull a waist harness over a firefighter's equipment, tighten it down, toss the rope out a window, then buckle together the repelling equipment in correct order and finally descend the side of a building.

With flames and blinding smoke the process can be daunting, Harris said.

The new kit, called a Personal Escape System, takes seconds to deploy and fits in a firefighter’s pocket. It is a special hook with 50 feet of heat resistant rope.

In the time it took Harris to dawn the current kit, a firefighter demonstrating the Personal Escape System was able to escape out a window over a dozen times.


Harris said minutes can be a lifetime.

“Conditions change without warning,” he said.

The foundation and department began a three month campaign to raise $508,000 so every every San Diego firefighter can have a Personal Escape System.

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