Colfax Rescue Squad to participate in purchase of a $19,000 respirator fit tester

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  If a respirator does not fit properly, it is not much use in helping a firefighter or an emergency medical technician.

The Colfax Village Board approved at the January 23 meeting the Colfax Rescue Squad’s participation in the purchase of a respirator fit tester at an anticipated cost of $876 or less.

The total cost for the respirator fit tester is $19,277.60, but a Dunn Energy grant of $9,638.30 brings the cost down to $9,639.30, said Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad.

So far, ten different ambulance services and fire departments are going in together to purchase the respirator fit tester.

Based on the already-confirmed approvals, the cost to Colfax for participating in the purchase would $876.

Knutson said he had not budgeted for the respirator fit tester because he had not been aware of the possibility of many different departments going in together to purchase one.

“It’s a good deal with everyone getting in on it,” he said.

The Colfax Rescue Squad does currently have a way to test respirator fit, but if the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a more accurate measurement for respirator fit, the Colfax Rescue Squad would not have a way to test respirators, Knutson said.

The respirators are not custom-made for each EMT, but there are various sizes, and an EMT must wear the respirator that fits him or her, he said.

Fire department

The Colfax Fire Department was one of the agencies on the list going in on the purchase of the respirator fit tester, and Village Trustee Annie Schieber wondered if the Colfax Fire Department would allow the rescue squad to use the fit tester without the rescue squad buying into the purchase.

The idea is that the various departments will have the fit tester for a couple of weeks before passing it on to the next department.

Knutson said he did not know if the Colfax Fire Department would allow the rescue squad to use the fit tester, but he did not want to speak for fire department officials, did not want to assume they would allow the rescue squad to use the fit tester and said he did not believe it would be fair for the fire department to make a financial contribution to purchasing the respirator fit tester and then have the rescue squad expect to use it free of charge.

All new employees of the Colfax Rescue Squad must be tested for respirator fit, and all employees must be tested every year, Knutson noted.

Storage

Village board members wondered where the respirator fit tester would be kept.

In addition to the Colfax Rescue Squad and the Colfax Community Fire Department, other agencies on the list include the Boyceville Community Ambulance Service, the Boyceville Community Fire Department, Dunn County First Responders, the Durand fire department, the Elk Mound fire department, the Elmwood fire department, the Glenwood City fire department, and the Sand Creek fire department.

Knutson said he supposed the respirator fit tester would be kept in Menomonie.

If Colfax ends up with a new employee, that person could go to Menomonie for testing, or the unit could be be brought to Colfax for a day, he said.

Village Trustee Keith Burcham wondered how long the respirator fit tester could be expected to last.

The proposal is for five years, and then after that it would probably need to be re-calibrated, Knutson said, adding that for the first five years, the tester would be serviced under a warranty.

Village Trustee Carey Davis wondered who would be liable if one of the services damaged the tester while it was in their possession.

Knutson said it would be matter of, “If you broke it, you fix it.”

Small equipment

Several village board members asked where the money for the respirator fit tester would come from.

Knutson said he would take the money out of the rescue squad’s small equipment budget for 2017.

According to information Knutson provided to the village board, if the Ridgeland fire department approved participation, the cost for all of agencies would decrease to $803, or $73 less than the $876.

If Durand EMS participates in the purchase, the cost for all of the agencies would decrease to $741.

If Elmwood EMS participates in the purchase, the cost for all of the agencies would decrease to $688.

Under the circumstances, with the grant from Dunn Energy and the agencies willing to share the cost, “it’s a good deal,” Knutson said.

Glenwood City fire, for example, has a company come in that charges $75 to test the fit of respirators for each firefighter, Knutson said.

“This will save money for Glenwood City fire,” he said.

If the Glenwood City fire department had 25 firefighters on the roster, for example, and it cost $75 per firefighter for an annual requirement to test the fit of the respirators, that would amount to $1,875 per year.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the Colfax Rescue Squad participating in the purchase of the respirator fit tester at a cost of $876 or less with the money coming from the small equipment portion of the budget.

New computer

At the January 23 meeting, the Colfax Village Board also approved the purchase of a new laptop computer for the Colfax Rescue Squad from 24-7 Telcom out of Menomonie at a cost of $1,444.

Knutson told village board members that he replaces the rescue squad’s primary computer every two years.

The rescue squad should have purchased the computer last year to maintain the replacement schedule, but Knutson said he had delayed the purchase for a year to use the money elsewhere in the budget.

Knutson asked for bid on a laptop with a docking station rather than a desktop computer because a laptop would be versatile. 

Knutson said he has purchased the last three computers for the rescue squad from 24-7 Telcom.

Technicians at 24-7 transfer the information from the old computer to the new computer, he noted.

“24-7 has been really good to the rescue squad,” Knutson said.

Village Trustee Mark Halpin asked about customer service.

24-7 Telcom provides very good customer service, Knutson said.

Village Trustee Keith Burcham asked what would become of the old computer.

The “old” computers are used elsewhere at the rescue squad until they die of old age, Knutson said.

Knutson also noted that the bid included a monitor and said he wanted a monitor to make working on the computer for long periods of time easier.

Davis asked how the price of the laptop compared to the price of a desktop, and Knutson said in previous years he had budgeted about $1,100 for a new computer.

Although the laptop would be a few hundred dollars more than previous desktops, 24-7 Telcom had also informed Knutson of a government contract for Microsoft Office Suite.

The contract is much cheaper at $2 per month than purchasing the Microsoft Office Suite outright, he said.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the bid from 24-7 Telcom in the amount of $1,444.99 for a laptop computer and a monitor.

Tires

The Colfax Village Board also approved at the January 23 meeting the purchase of new tires for the Medic 7 ambulance at a cost of $1,274.40.

The rear tires are the original tires on the ambulance, Knutson said.

The original plan was to replace the tires this spring, but when the ambulance got stuck in the snow in the rescue squad’s driveway, the EMTs “suggested I get the tires quicker than spring,” Knutson said.

The village board unanimously approved the purchase and mounting of four tires from All Season Tire Pros out of Eau Claire.

Bauer Built quoted a price of $1,408.76 for the tires.