Grenade-like device just one more tool for firefighters - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/28/10

Grenade-like device just one more tool for firefighters

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ABERNATHY, TX (KCBD) -

By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

Lubbock, TX (KCBD) – Firefighters from coast to coast and here in West Texas have their eyes on a small grenade-like device that could revolutionize the way they fight fires. It's designed to break up the fire, save lives, and your property.

The West Texas Fire and Arson investigators Association met in Abernathy where they put the relatively new Fit-5 technology to the test.

It's the size of a plate and works much like a grenade. Firefighters and investigators from across the state of Texas gathered in front of an abandoned house in Abernathy and watched the flames flare up and waited for the Fit-5 to deploy.

"Pull the pin and it sends a spark into the device," says Abernathy firefighter Julian Torrez, who tossed the unit Wednesday into the burning room.

The simulation was real, and set up in a bedroom with real furniture much like you would see inside a home. Once the fire got hot, Torrez deployed the device which was captured on a firefighter's helmet camera. "The fire departments have eight seconds to pull the pin," says Martin Sensy with ARA Safety, a company based in Vancouver, Columbia. The device lingers in the air for around 40 minutes, and breaks the fire up but doesn't take the place of water and firefighting. The device makes a hissing sound and tackles the heat and within seconds drops temperatures hundreds of degrees.

"It was hot, but not as hot when you are trying to fight a fire with just water," says Shallowater firefighter Bryce Muller. The small red life saver is especially appealing to volunteer fire departments. "We may have one or two guys at the station and at that capacity they cannot safely enter a structure and with this they can throw it and wait for backup," added Muller.

The device gives departments time to hook up their equipment and in many cases reduces the amount of water used to put out the fire. Abernathy Fire Chief Kelly Vandygriff put the first Fit-5 on his fire trucks in the region and believes the devices will save lives and property. Firefighters say the unit preserves evidence for investigators because they do not have to use as much water.

Firefighters will put the same fires out later, without the device, and investigate the difference.

Abernathy fire crews used the device back in February to fight a house fire during the middle of the day. They were the first to get the devices, followed by New Deal. Lubbock Fire Department is looking into the units. The Fit-5 costs around $1,000 dollars. The manufacturer is working to get insurance companies on board to replace the used devices for fire departments.

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