There are three things firefighters say they must have in order to fight fires effectively: a water source, fire proof clothing, and smoke free air, which they get from a scuba cylinder attached to their face mask. But when the air runs out, they have to change tanks or refill. And Thomas County Fire and Rescue now have a portable air unit so they can refill on scene.
"Now we're able to send this unit on scene at the location of the fires and refill those cylinders and put our units immediately back in service."
Jones says before they had this unit they had to send cylinders to several locations to be refilled, often times while firefighters continued to put a fire out.
"We definitely saw a need for it in Thomas County."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the funds for the $30,000 air unit.
"Through the normal process we probably would not have been able to purchase something of this nature."
And it's this continuous air source that firefighters say helps them do their job and save lives.
The air unit can also be used for underwater search and rescue.
The fire chief says it's deployed to all Thomas County structure fires and other fire districts when needed.