SPOKANE, Wash. -- Spokane City Council approved an emergency resolution Monday night to allow the Spokane City Fire Department to buy two new breathing air compressors.
This comes after contaminants were reportedly found in firefighters' air tanks. The state is now investigating a complaint that the air compressors were not serviced in a timely manner.
In early December, Spokane City Fire Department says its firefighters noticed a foul smell coming from their air tanks. The department responded by immediately shutting down all three of its air compressors and found a few air tanks with a similar odor. This is a problem because those air compressors are crucial when crews respond to structure fires. Spokane Fire Department officials said each on duty firefighter is given one air tank. When their oxygen levels get low, air compressors are used to fill them back up.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries Spokesperson Elaine Fisher confirms they started investigating the department after receiving a complaint that the air compressor was not serviced in a timely manner and was exposed to oil and other contaminants.
Now that three of department's air compressors are removed from service, it has had to borrow from neighboring fire departments for the time being. Officials confirm this has allowed the department to be fully operational.
The Spokane Fire Department originally requested $192,000 from the city council to replace two air compressors, but the request was denied. Reports said the funds were denied because there was not enough information presented and the urgency of the situation was not communicated efficiently. The emergency resolution gives the fire department $160,000 to purchase two new air compressors.
The equipment is being tested to figure out what caused the contamination and return it to service. According to state law, fire departments are required to do breathing air quality every three months. KREM 2 was unable to confirm when the Spokane Fire Department last tested its equipment.