By Emily Stifler

Last summer Big Sky Fire purchased 25 new breathing apparatus, which is equipment firefighters in dangerous environments where they might breath heat, smoke or chemicals. Theirs were 10 years old, and this purchase brought the department’s equipment up to current standard.

The tank of compressed breathing air and mask is probably “one of the most crucial pieces of equipment we have, along with our bunker gear (the firefighter pants, coat, gloves boots and helmet),” said Matt Mohr from the department.

“We had 25 breathing apparatus, old ones, that we didn’t know what to do with,” Mohr said. They didn’t want to sell them, because they weren’t brand new, and they knew smaller fire departments might have funding issues or need equipment. They found Jackson Volunteer Fire Department, in Southwest Montana’s rural Big Hole Valley, west of I-15.

“They only had two operational breathing apparatus, and those were very old, low pressure systems [so they weren’t as efficient],” Mohr said.

So, this summer, Big Sky fire donated 10 breathing apparatus, 10 extra high pressure air bottles, and a rapid intervention kit, which helps in rescuing downed, injured or trapped firefighters.

“The whole system is lighter, so it puts less strain on a working firefighter. The high pressure bottles hold more air so they can work for longer,” Mohr said.

In rural communities like Jackson, the fire department is very important, considering how far away they are in major metropolises, he added. “They were very happy for it.”

Big Sky Fire is funded partly by resort tax and property tax.