NYC firefighters now wearing emergency alerting device

NYC firefighters now wearing emergency alerting device



New York City Mayor Edward Koch and Fire Commissioner Joseph Spinnato have announced that the city’s firefighters are being issued a new device called Personal Alert Safety System (PASS).

Also known as the Lifeguard Personal Distress Device, the hands-free unit is about the size of a small transistor radio and is worn on the firefighter’s breathing apparatus or belt. Its electronic trigger is motion-sensitive.

Should the firefighter become immobilized for more than 25 seconds, the unit automatically transmits a distinctive, pulsating electronic shriek to alert the other firefighters and help them locate the immobile victim. It will continue to “scream for help” for several hours.

The device may also be triggered manually by the firefighter should he become disoriented, trapped or otherwise endangered while still conscious and able to move.

The PASS first gained national attention in 1982 when the State of California established standards for personal distress alarms and mandated their use by all California firefighters. In 1983, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) adopted a similar and even more stringent standard. The PASS meets or surpasses the NFPA specifications for these devices.

In addition, the PASS units are waterproof, shock-resistant, and intrinsically safe in potentially explosive atmospheres, according to The Antenna Specialists Company, Cleveland, OH, the firm that manufactures the devices.

Commissioner Spinnato commented that, “Our now tested and accepted PASS device adds another level of protection for our firefighters as they pursue the most dangerous of occupations, protecting life and property against fire.”

Mayor Koch said, “Our firefighters put their lives on the line every time they respond to an alarm. We hope that this simple and ingenious technological advance will save lives in the future.”

The New York City Fire Department has ordered 2,500 of the units to be issued to every on-duty firefighter. They were funded by a grant from the New York Fire Safety Foundation, a privately supported organization, and from contributions by Chase Manhattan Bank and Phillip Morris USA.

The PASS unit is now also being supplied to firefighters in Miami, FL; Cranford, NJ; Allentown, PA; Albuquerque, NM; Stilwell, KS; and the State of California.

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