POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (STPNS) -- Sitting in the restaurant of the Kosrae Nautilus Resort Andrew Withington listed for us the items recently donated to the FSM by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) under their Airport Improvement Program. When the list was complete it spanned three handwritten pages. The items on the list filled 40 foot containers, one for each state in the FSM.
Brian Livingston and Andrew Withington visited each of the islands to demonstrate the use of the tools their company had been contracted to provide. L.N. Curtis and Sons is a family owned business that supplies emergency equipment and service all over the world. Withington said, ?I suppose we could have just said, ?here?s your stuff, have fun? but that?s not the way our company works. It?s important to us that our customers are proficient in the use and care of the tools we provide.? He said that improper use of the emergency tools could harm or even kill people.
Recently, a fire fighter from each of the States attended a one week training in Saipan. Those delegates were trained to train other fire fighters in the safe and effective use of the tools that have been donated. Felix Cipeda, a long time trainer and fire fighter from the Saipan international airport traveling with Livingston and Withington said that firefighters from FAA airports across the Pacific are periodically required to come to the Saipan training facility. There firefighters participate in live fire training in a large frame mockup of an aircraft.
Recently each of the FSM?s FAA regulated airports received two ?Strikers?. The strikers, manufactured by Osk Kosh are highly technical firefighting vehicles. They don?t look like they could travel at high speeds but they can and over and through rough terrain. The fire trucks? front bumpers stand seven feet off the ground and angle back under the vehicle so that it can clear obstacles in its path and still reach its destination, an important trait for a vehicle that may be called to service to reach a burning aircraft quickly whether on or off road. They are capable of arriving safely at their destination even through deep water if necessary. Their nozzles fire streams of water at high pressure and can drain the high volume self contained water tanks in a minute and a half if necessary. The vessel is also equipped with infrared in order to maneuver through dense clouds of smoke. These are the vehicles that stand at the ready every time a plane arrives and departs any of the FSM airports.
L.N. Curtis and Sons provided other high tech tools designed for rescue. Along with a variety of personal protection equipment designed to protect a firefighter from the soles of his feet to the tips of his fingers they provided self contained breathing apparatuses that allow the firefighter to breath even in dense clouds of deadly smoke.
Of interest to the more destructive of us is a complete set of the Hurst Jaws of Life tools. Livingston is an expert in the use of those tools and demonstrated their use on old cars in each of the states. The specialized diamond saw blade they provided for the rescue saw he said, could turn an old sedan into a convertible in a matter of moments. The hydraulic powered Jaws of Life tools which include a spreader, cutters and a ram, can extricate an accident victim from the most twisted of metal wreckage. They also brought an air bag lifting kit that can be slid underneath an object weighing several tons and then can be inflated to lift the object off the ground and out of the way of rescue efforts.
They brought fifteen 55 gallon drums of fire fighting foam. Whitington said that the foam is very effective but that it is also very expensive. He said that the foam currently costs around $25 a gallon. At that rate the fire fighting foam alone cost in excess of $20,000.
Included in the supplies were emergency medical supplies and tools including an automatic defibrillator. Medical training will need to be provided by other experts. It is hoped that the tools will never be needed but thousands of dollars worth of tools are now on hand in case they are needed.
The fire fighter trainers said that their efforts were facilitated by the United States Embassy. They said that the help the Embassy gave them while on their tour of the FSM was invaluable.
In both Chuuk and Pohnpei, the departure of the experienced firefighters was heralded by cascades of water from the strikers that doused the Continental flight on which they left the States?a sign of respect and gratitude. In a matter of coincidence, Pohnpei?s Governor John Ehsa was on the flight departing from Pohnpei leading many who were unaware to speculate that the Governor had ordered the display in honor of his own departure though he had nothing to do with it. It was a spontaneous gesture by the firefighters of Pohnpei International Airport.
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