Kern County Firefighters are getting some new gear, all in preparation for the El Niño storms heading our way.
Chief Brian Marshall says the department spent $52,000 dollars on swift water rescue gear. That money would have otherwise gone to equipment like hoses, etc.
The equipment includes a helmet that allows water to flow through, a life jacket, beacon, knife, fins and a rescue rope.
This is a stark contrast from structure firefighting gear. The typical wardrobe you see on a firefighter, the yellow jacket and pants with the reflecting strip is a huge hindrance in water.
Chief Marshall said the helmet can trap water and keep the firefighter from seeing clearly, the clothes would be soaked and become heavy. Their boots would also become weights as they collect more water.
The department is getting ten sets of swift water rescue equipment that will go to stations in areas prone to flood. Currently there are two Urban Search and Rescue teams that have this equipment along with a couple stations near rivers and lakes.
Marshall said he hopes none of his firefighters have to use this equipment this winter, saying their slogan is "Turn Around, Don't Drown."
This means if you see deep water in front of you, turn around and find another route to get to your destination, instead of risking getting trapped.