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Firefighters get new lifesaving devices

'A ladder at every window'

Alpharetta firefighters trained with the Sterling F-4 Personal Rescue System, a second-chance lifesaving measure to help them get out of tough spots during a fire. JONATHAN COPSEY/Staff. (click for larger version)
August 20, 2012
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Last week, Alpharetta firefighters spent several days jumping out of windows.

It was part of a three-day training program to get several firefighters up to par with a new lifesaving device with which all firefighters in the city are going to be outfitted.

The Sterling F-4 Personal Rescue System is essentially a rope tied to a belt.

"It gives a firefighter a way out," said Chris Minichiello, co-owner of East Coast Rescue Solutions, manufacturer of the devices. "It's like having a ladder at every window."

The devices work with two parts – a hook can anchor onto a window sill or door frame, and then a 40-foot rope tied to the firefighter and the hook allows them to jump out of the window and lower themselves to the ground without fear of injury.

The entire system weighs about six pounds and fits right on a firefighter's belt.

"If we were in a horrible environment and can't get out, this allows us to go out the window," said Alpharetta Battalion Chief Wes McCall. "This is an option for hope."

Alpharetta Public Safety Spokesman George Gordon said the city was the first in the state to completely outfit its fire department with the devices.

The cost to the city was about $50,000 to get a device for each of its roughly 100 firefighters.

"I want to thank the city of Alpharetta mayor and council," said Gary D. George, Alpharetta Public Safety director. "By authorizing this purchase, they show how committed they are to providing the very best equipment to our public safety professionals. Our firefighters work and train very hard so they may provide our citizens with the best possible public safety services."

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