BACK IN BLACK For the first time in decades, the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department will be wearing all-black turnout gear, after an exhaustive investigation of the best brands on the market. Gone is the 2009 tan gear you’re used to seeing.
“We believe the black with lime green reflective trim is more visible to drivers with the high contrast of colors,” says Deputy Chief Joe Thuransky, who served on the committee to test the new gear, along with Bill Limegrover, Larry Celender, Dan Morris, Bob Jankowski and Steve Quatchak. “It will show excessive heat exposure on a firefighter [the threads turn red when the material is compromised by too much heat] but truthfully, it’s kind of cool looking, with a modern day throwback to the earlier days of firefighting in bigger cities like Pittsburgh, New York City, Chicago and Boston. The fire service is rich in tradition so long as we can do it safely.”
To select the gear, the committee spent about a year demo-ing new equipment, starting with attending fire trade shows, such as the Pittsburgh Fire Expo, The Harrisburg Fire Expo and the Fire Departments Instructors Conference, in Indianapolis. There, committee members learned about the latest trends in fabric technology, designs, fit and performance.
Everything under consideration must meet or exceed the National Fire Protection Agency 1971 standards for structural firefighting clothing.
The committee receives one free demo set from each national manufacturer for use for a three-month test period. “We also tested the gear under live fire training conditions at the Allegheny County Fire Academy to ensure maximum performance and protection. This is where you really see what works and what doesn’t.” After the gear is cleaned and inspected, the committee makes a recommendation to Fire Chief Nick Sohyda, for approval and purchase through a bidding process.
In the end, the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, which includes career and volunteer firefighters, has 60 new sets of protective equipment. One full set of gear is about $3,400 head to toe and lasts 10 years. Old gear gets a new life as demo sets for the Mt. Lebanon Citizens Fire Academy or training, or it is donated to smaller fire departments in South America.
Each firefighter gets one new set of protective gear every five years—and each person keeps two sets: one at work for on-duty times and one in his or her vehicle for off-duty use.
It takes up to six weeks to have a full set of gear made to the exact specifications of the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department committee. All gear must have high-tech protective fabric in the three layers of the coats and pants (outer shell, moisture barrier and inner liner), a protective hood, gloves, boots, suspenders, reflective trims and helmet. Pocket styles and locations are also critical aspects.
This year’s successful manufacturer was Fire Dex, in Medina, Ohio, with their newer Tech Gen 71 fabric. Thuransky says it provides greater strength, lighter wear, better breathability and high heat protection while it remains comfortable to wear every day. A group of firefighters went to the factory for a pre-order inspection and approval before the rest of the sets were fabricated.
Globe made the boots, MSA manufactured the helmets, Innotex made the hoods, Fire Dex fabricated the gloves and Boston Leather produced the suspenders.
The department asks one thing of the public: “Keep an eye out for us when we’re working in the streets,” Thuransky says. “Slow down and set your phone aside when passing an emergency scene. Please!”
NO PLACE FOR HATE Ten new banners. Ten commendations. It was a bittersweet ceremony at the high school in May, when the Cleveland branch of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) named all 10 Mt. Lebanon schools as “No Place for Hate” as part of its Spread the Light ceremony, hosted by Jefferson Middle School.
To achieve the designation, schools had to have student-led programs that combat bias and promote inclusion. Additionally, Jefferson Middle School received the “Action Award” for its fundraising efforts—a bake sale, wristband sale and tzedakah poster event—with the $406 proceeds going to help the Tree of Life congregation.
A particularly moving part of the ceremony was the Jefferson eighth-graders who presented their art projects—their visceral reactions to reading Night by Elie Wiesel, which is part of the literature curriculum.
Alana Bandos, education director of the ADL Cleveland, told the more than 250 students, teachers and dignitaries in attendance, that they may experience incidents of hate, but that they should be comforted in the response. “For every incident of hate in our country, there’s a story of someone standing up and saying ‘enough.’”
The ADL’s regional director, James Pasch, repeated the often-told story of Mr. Rogers telling children that scary events always have good helpers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
“Lead by being one of these helpers,” Pasch said. “Lead by your actions. Lead by your words.”
At the end of the ceremony, the ADL conferred banners on each designated school. The high school stage was not big enough to hold all 10 Mt. Lebanon schools, the leadership group of students and teachers; the crowd spilled out into the auditorium.
NEW INSPECTOR Ashley Chipps is Mt. Lebanon’s new code enforcement officer. Chipps has a degree in criminology from WVU, where she captained the women’s rugby team. She comes to Mt. Lebanon from the City of Pittsburgh, where she worked as a combined operations and condemnation and demolitions inspector. You can reach her at 412-343-4584.
In addition to Mt. Lebanon’s curbside recycling program, which allows for biweekly recycling of metal cans, paper, cardboard and plastics numbered one and two, residents have plenty of opportunity for free drop-off glass recycling. On Saturday, July 20 and August 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can drop off glass at the Village Square Parking Lot, in front of Kohl’s. No need to separate! (And mark your calendar for Saturday, September 14 … on that day, the collection is at the Dormont Pool.)
You can also drop off glass for free (separated into clear, green and brown/amber) at either of Michael Bros.’ two locations: Baldwin, 901 Horning Road, is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Reserve location, 408 Hoffman Road, is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Michael Bros. will also accept cardboard for free.
You may take unbroken beer bottles (no other kinds of glass) to Bridge City Beverage, 1608 Cochran Road in Scott Township, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You do not need to separate those bottles.
But what about the truly nasty stuff? Propane? Paint? Pesticides? Mt. Lebanon is hosting a household hazardous waste and electronic waste collection on Saturday, July 27, at the Mt. Lebanon High School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
You can take: household hazardous waste, paint, paint thinner, cleaning products, pesticides, car and household batteries, light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, pool chemicals, oil, anti-freeze, flammables and more. You cannot take: explosives, ammunition, radioactive materials, large appliances, pharmaceuticals, syringes, medical waste, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, mercury-containing devices, compressed gas or tires.
Registration is required for this event (go to www.ecsr.net or call 866-815-0016 to make your appointment.) The contractor charges a small fee for disposal. For a price list, go to the “Trending Now” section of www.mtlebanon.org.