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Posted on: May 1, 2017

Local industries, businesses partner with fire department for rescue equipment

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Portland, Texas…Trench rescues present firefighters with real problems including imminent collapse, stabilization, and search and rescue of trapped victims. Specialized equipment can make a difference in saving the life of a potential victim and in providing greater safety for first responders. 

With that knowledge, several local industry leaders and businesses partnered with the Portland Fire Department to purchase equipment that could make the difference in a life and death situation. The risk for emergency personnel is especially high: A collapsed trench has more than a 50 percent chance of collapsing again, particularly when rescuers are digging out the original victims. 

“With so many demands on our resources, we’re fortunate that area industries and businesses are willing to step up and work with us. Trench rescues are time critical, so the right equipment matters,” remarked Portland Fire Chief Lyle Lombard. 

“This equipment could also be used in the event of a building or house collapse, so having this equipment is important to everyone in Portland.” 

Cheniere Energy provided funds for trench/collapse rescue struts, an air manifold system, and technical rescue devices. Firehouse Subs funded trench support boards, lifting airbags, and a rescue saw. Voestalpine stepped up to purchase a trailer to transport equipment to the scene; while Scott Electric provided the in-trailer storage rack for the trench boards.  

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trench deaths have more than doubled nationwide since last year. Without the right equipment, trench collapses are rarely survivable. One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds—the weight of a small car—giving a worker in a trench, or possibly the first responder who goes after the worker, little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse.

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