Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NRFS) has invested in new firefighting equipment to protect its firefighters exposed to the most dangerous situations.


New breathing apparatus manufactured in the UK by global safety systems business Dräger at their factory and centre of excellence in Blyth, Northumberland will help keep firefighters in touch with their colleagues through the latest self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which will also monitor their physical health during an incident.


Specialised cleaning equipment has also been acquired to protect emergency responders from the effects of contaminants, including carcinogens and viruses (such as Covid-19).


All equipment is supported by 10-year Total Care full service and maintenance provision, and the NRFS is realising savings of more than 25% over the lifecycle of the technology compared to complete system replacement. This is because of an earlier decision to buy Dräger equipment that could be upgraded rather than replaced. NRFS has worked with Dräger for more than 30 years.


Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, says the investment has been driven by safety, scalability, reliability and value for money: “We do everything we can to provide our employees the highest levels of protection, and this investment will also further enhance our ability to make the communities of Northumberland safer. This means better protecting firefighters from the contaminants their equipment is exposed to, and it therefore was logical to invest in Dräger-approved systems which will ensure effective and deep cleaning of equipment.”


Dräger equipment is also British built, which Paul Hedley says provides a high level of assurance in the face of global supply chain issues: “With Dräger’s Global Centre of Excellence for SCBA in our neighbouring Blyth, our supply of equipment is both local and secure, providing assurances to us as a service, as well as boosting the local and national economy and supporting local jobs.”


The equipment acquired includes Dräger’s new AirBoss (SCBA) and the state-of-the-art SCBA cleaning system. The Northumberland team has chosen the PSS® AirBoss Connect since it provides the only operationally-proven telemetry solution in the UK which is compliant with relevant British Standards for emergency responder telemetry – collecting vital information which is automatically communicated between the wearer of the BA set and the Entry Control Point while attending an incident to enhance operational efficiency and firefighter safety.


Matthew Bedford, Managing Director of Dräger Safety UK, says Dräger works in genuine partnership with Northumberland Fire and Rescue: “Our relationship with the Service goes back more than 30 years, and we are proud to meet its desire to provide the latest, most innovative technologies that promote the health and wellbeing of its firefighters.”


Dräger will continue to work as a strong partner of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service to develop joint community initiatives across the County and will provide beneficiary and financial support where possible, supporting Northumberland in their delivery of the Prince’s Trust Programme, Young Firefighters Association, youth engagement initiatives as well as providing support for under-represented and disadvantaged groups.


Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service is one of the most diverse fire services in the UK, responding to risks from the urban South East corner of Northumberland to the remote rural areas in the North and West of the county. It controls 16 fire stations which are responsible for the safety of 316,028 people within an area of 5,026 square kilometres.