Much of the Taichung Fire Bureau’s personal protective equipment has exceeded its service life, Taichung city councilors said.
Taichung City Councilors Chen Shu-hua (陳淑華), Hsiao Lung-tse (蕭隆澤) and Chiu Su-chen (邱素貞) of the Democratic Progressive Party were speaking at a council session on Friday, citing information from the National Audit Office’s Taichung division.
According to the office, the expired equipment includes 55.96 percent of all protective clothing, 65.73 percent of masks, 56.82 percent of oxygen tanks, 76.12 percent of thermal imagers and 95.33 percent of personal alert safety systems (PASS), Chen said.
Photo: Su Meng-chuan, Taipei Times
“That basic safety equipment as crucial as PASS units was not replaced shows that the city government has a disregard for the lives of firefighters,” she said.
PASS devices are motion sensors that firefighters activate when entering hazardous environments and emit a warning sound if no movement occurs after a certain amount of time, indicating that a user is in distress.
Taichung firefighters respond to a fire in 62.82 seconds on average, lower than the national average of 41.6 seconds and the slowest among firefighters in the six special municipalities, the city councilors said.
There are 232 vehicles in the city’s fire truck fleet, or just four more than the legally mandated minimum for the jurisdiction, they said, adding that 32.16 percent are more than 15 years old.
The councilors called on the city to replace worn-out equipment and that which has exceeded its service life.
Taichung Fire Bureau Director-General Tseng Chin-tsai (曾進財) said that most of the expired equipment has been kept in working order by being repaired, and that replacing old or broken equipment is a budget priority for the bureau.
The bureau has made significant increases to the budget for replacing aging fire trucks over the past two years and is asking for NT$110 million (US$3.95 million) for that purpose next year, he said.
Taichung firefighters collect intelligence and assess the situation prior to dispatching personnel, unlike other fire departments that carry out assessments after fire trucks arrive at a fire, he said.
This results in a longer response time, but is more effective and safer, he said.
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