Bedford Co. Dealing With the Cost of Firefighting Gear

Bedford Co., VA - The Bedford County Board of Supervisors has voted to help outfit firefighters with the gear that keeps them safe.

A firefighter's gear doesn't just protect him or her from flames, it also guards against hazardous materials and broken glass at crash scenes. .

According to the Bedford County's Board of Supervisors, this is not an area to pinch pennies.

Bedford County Fire Chief Jack Jones says the issue is of vital importance.

"Unfortunately some people will say, 'This isn't Chicago. This isn't New York City. Why do they need a hood that costs that much?'," Chief Jones said.

It costs $30 just for the piece that protects a firefighter's neck. It costs more than $11,000 to outfit a firefighter from head to toe.

Chief Jones says it's a very small price to pay for volunteers willing to stick their necks out.

"The fire does not know it's a volunteer firefighter fighting and it doesn't know they're in Bedford County, Virginia, versus the City of Lynchburg, versus Chicago. We are fighting the very same fire as our counterparts across the world and our people need the best we can give them," Chief Jones said.

The county's board of supervisors agrees, and is giving the department of fire and rescue $80,000 for gear.

A jacket costs $1,200 jacket. Pants are $900. The Board of Supervisors' money will pay for each of the county's 12 departments to have three sets of each.

"These are some thermal hits," Chief Jones said, pointing out a burned out area on some gear. "This discoloration right here, that means that it was exposed to heat and more fire than it should have been and this trim should be replaced and the material under there should be assessed."

Depending on how many fires they go through, each set should be replaced every about every 10 years. It's been three years since the county paid for new gear.