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West Iron County Fire Department receives donation for compressed oxygen tank

The compressor costs upwards of $18,000. Thanks to the help of the Iron River Care Center, the station reached its goal.
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:47 PM EDT
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IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - The current compressed oxygen system is from 1984. The West Iron County Fire Department says the equipment is old, and the station has been saving for upgrades through its equipment fund.

“These compressors supply air, it’s really filtered out, so when we put on our air packs we have clean, breathable air. We’re able to go in a burning house with it, or maybe a house that’s filled with CO,” said Jimmy Mylchreest, West Iron County Fire Chief.

The compressor costs upwards of $18,000. Thanks to the help of the Iron River Care Center, the station reached its goal.

“The donation itself was a $10,000 contribution. What it means to the [Iron River] Care Center, and what it means to me is to be able to partner with our community,” said Benjamin Friedman, Iron River Care Center Owner and President.

Friedman says he felt empowered to donate after the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The station is a volunteer group, and the department says having reliable equipment is a must. One fundraiser the department participates in is a boot drive.

“We go all over the community in our firefighting gear, with boots and we just got a sign, ‘Donate to the Boot,’ or ‘Fill the Boot’,” said Richard Bekkala, West Iron County Fire Department Volunteer Fireman.

Bekkala says every cent counts, the department spends hundreds of dollars yearly on just double a batteries. The new equipment upgrades will be used right away.

“It’s something that the department uses, I would say, 75 percent or maybe even more of calls we’ll use them,” Mylchreest said. “Even on car fires when we’re outside we’ll still wear them if we are in the immediate area of the toxic smoke.”

The department says volunteer stations across the country are always looking for members and donations, to keep first responders and community members safe.

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