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Change in law gives fire departments flexibility

Local fire departments could end up saving money thanks to a recent change in state law.  Fire departments are no longer required to buy safety equipment they may never use.
After 2005's "Black Sunday" in which six New York City firefighters were forced to jump from the fourth floor of a burning building, the state legislature passed a law requiring fire departments to purchase emergency escape systems.

But with no flexibility, small town departments were on the hook for the same equipment as large cities. 

Now that the law has been amended. Local departments can consider alternatives and chose an emergency escape system best suited for the community they serve. 

Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch says every interior firefighter in his company carries a belt pack with 50 feet of rope and a descending device.

"They're used only in case of an emergency....if they need to make a rapid deployment out of an upper story," said Koch. "The rope gets attached to the window framing or furniture [and] they deploy [the device]. It's a hands-free unit.  

Instead of being restricted to 30-year-old standards, changes in the law allow fire companies to update their emergency escape systems as technology advances.