BELLS — Thanks to new, cutting-edge equipment, the Bells Volunteer Fire Department is experiencing fewer injuries and greater productivity than ever before.

BELLS — Thanks to new, cutting-edge equipment, the Bells Volunteer Fire Department is experiencing fewer injuries and greater productivity than ever before.


The fire department received 35 sets of ‘TECGEN" wildland gear in June through a $16,000 grant. The wildland gear consists of lightweight jackets and pants that are meant to be an alternative to traditional "bunker gear."


"It’s rip-proof and puncture-proof, and it’s blood-borne pathogen-proof," said Bells volunteer firefighter Ted Barker.


When deciding what new equipment to get with the grant, Barker tried out the wildland gear jacket and pants by putting them on and rolling in a small grass fire. He was not burned and found the gear to be very effective, he said.


Since receiving the new gear, there have been no heat injuries among the Bells firefighters.


The department saw a glaring need for the wildland gear, Barker said.


The most common incidents that the fire department responds to are brush fires and car accidents. The bunker gear that they used before is meant to be used fighting structure fires, so it does not suit outdoor fires very well.


"It’s extremely heavy," Barker said of the bunker gear, "Even the newest brands of it. It’s just hot."


The wildland gear is lightweight but still dually suited for indoor and outdoor use. Before, the Bells firefighters would have to relieve each other at fires every 20 minutes in order to avoid getting too hot. Now, firefighters can last up to 45 minutes.


The department received the wildland gear through the Fire House Subs Public Safety Foundation grant. Deanna Wilder, the Sherman Fire House Subs location franchisee, said it was the Foundation that motivated her to buy into Fire House Subs.


In 2009, the the Tom Bean Fire Department receive a new communications system through the same grant program.