As high-rise residential and commercial development becomes more common in Tempe, the city’s fire department has needed to supplement its equipment to better fight fires in tall buildings.
The Tempe Fire Training Center was updated in May with a firefighter air-replenishment system, Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department Chief Greg Ruiz said. The system was donated by RescueAir, a California-based company.
Firefighters demonstrated the system on Tuesday and thanked RescueAir for donating the $45,000 equipment.
The system, also known as FARS, eliminates the need for ground support to supply replacement air tanks to firefighters on higher floors.
Since 2009, Tempe mandates that FARS be installed in all new buildings 75 feet or taller, Tempe Fire Marshall Deems Shepard said.
Instead of using replacement air tanks, firefighters can quickly refill their tanks by plugging them into the systems, which are located in stairwells.
“We hope we’ll never be able to have to use these systems,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said. “But if we do, we know it’ll save lives.”
Tempe is the first department to offer in-house training on FARS in the East Valley, Ruiz said, and other area fire departments will be able to utilize the system. RescueAir donated a system to the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center in 2013.
“We just saw it as a good way to help these fire departments,” RescueAir CEO Anthony Turiello said. “Tempe has been an early adopter in requiring FARS in high rises, so we want to support them.”
Turiello said the company is also paying for its annual testing and maintenance.
There is no cost to the local fire department and no need for departments to purchase new equipment to use FARS, Ruiz said. Developers pay the cost of the systems in high rises.
There are currently about 20 high-rise developments underway in Tempe, according to Tempe development reports.