Each $2,400 unit includes a new jacket and pants, a Class 2 Seat Harness and a Drag Rescue Device.
Rappelling out of a window just got simpler for the Palm Coast Fire Department’s 57 career firefighters.
As part of its rebranding, PCFD has implemented the use of new bunker gear. Each unit costs about $2,400, Fire Public Information Officer Patrick Juliano said. It includes a black jacket and pants, a Class 2 Seat Harness and a Drag Rescue Device.
“We’ve had bail out systems before. They were more of a traditional rappelling system,” Lt. Rich Cline said. “This is specifically designed for a firefighter to bail out of a window.”
To demonstrate, Lt. Joey Paci bailed out of a second-story window in the firefighter training tower in Bunnell on Thursday, April 26, while using the new gear. His movements were fluid and allowed for a simpler descent to the ground compared to previous “ropes and rings,” as Cline called the older rappel system. During training, the firefighters were also hooked up to an extra safety harness, which would not be used in real-life situations.
“Here in Palm Coast, as long as I’ve been here — this is almost 20 years — we have never had a situation where someone had to bail out,” Cline said. “But we are also proactive, and we want to make sure that if we ever have to bail out, that we can do it safely.”
Paci spent the day providing two-hour training periods for the different engine departments to learn how to use the new gear. First, the firefighters layered on the new jackets and pants, and then they practiced with the new harnesses on ground before trying to rappel from the second floor.
“There’s less thought involved,” Cline said about the Class 2 Seat Harness. “Before, you had to take things out, connect things up, find something to hook it to. This thing: you have the big hook, you hook it into the wall and jump out the window.”
City of Palm Coast Communications and Marketing Manager Cindi Lane said the money for each unit comes out of an equipment fund in the fire department’s budget. Bunker gear — which is used for situations like structural firefighting, vehicle accidents and vehicle extrications — is replaced on a rotation of about 15 sets per year, said Lane.
The new Drag Rescue Device in the firefighter jacket would allow a firefighter to drag an incapacitated firefighter to safety, if needed. The attire also has diamond-plated reflective striping for greater visibility when firefighters are working roadside emergencies at night.