SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Washington Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the Spokane Fire Department over an issue with self-contained breathing apparatuses.
Washington Department of Labor and Industries Spokesperson Elaine Fisher said they started the investigation after receiving a complaint that the air compressor, that is used to fill the breathing apparatuses, was not serviced in a timely manner and was exposed to oil and other contaminants.
Deputy Chief of Operations Mark John said around December 3 an odor was detected in a breathing apparatus and he was immediately notified about the issue. John said they were then removed from service. He said the next day, they found more bottles that had a similar odor.
John said the breathing apparatuses are used by firefighters whenever oxygen levels are depleted. He said they immediately reached out to neighboring fire stations to replace them. They were able to get 70 replacement air packs in six hours. John said the department is fully operational now but they do not know what caused the strange odor.
“We are working collaboratively to solve the problem,” John said.
He said testing is being done on the equipment to figure out what caused it and return it to service.
John explained that the investigation by the Department of Labor and Industries was not a surprise and they are not too concerned. He said he is sure that there are things to fix but those have yet to be determined.
The equipment is being tested to the National Fire Protection Association standards and so far the air tested has met those standards, according to John.
“The safety of our personnel and the community is very, very paramount,” John said.
Department of Labor and Industries officials said a worksite inspection, safety or health inspections takes up to six months to complete.