Hartford Fire Department Changing Equipment After Firefighter Death

By the summer, all Hartford firefighters will have heat-resistant, flame-retardant fire hoods to cover their faces and necks. It's one of the changes safety inspectors recommended after the department's first line-of-duty death in 40 years.

Without the fire hoods, Lt. Russell Cook said, "all of this is still exposed, around your face where your mask is meeting."

Hartford is the last community in Connecticut where firefighters do not all have heat-resistant hoods – but not for long.

"We're going to have them fill out evaluations as to the comfort of the hood, how it helped them, what their dislikes were," explained Interim Assistant Chief Scott Brady.

Firefighters are now testing several different brands and models of hoods for comfort and safety. Cook said it requires some changes as to how his men and women will attack fires.

"You're used to that feeling on your face, that sensation, letting you know the heat, where the fire is, and when you put this on," he said. "It's kind of taking one of those senses away from you."

State safety regulators are now requiring Hartford to outfit all its firefighters with the heat-resistant hoods.

It's one of several safety recommendations that have come out of the investigation into firefighter Kevin Bell's line-of-duty death last October. No one has claimed Bell's death was at all related to the hoods – it's just one of several directives from Conn-OSHA the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters told you about last month.

"It doesn't solve the problem, you can still get burned with the hood, we did have a member wearing the hood at the blue hills fire that did receive burns," Brady said.

Two other updates on the fallout from Bell's death: The fire department says multiple state and local investigations usually take anywhere from seven months to a year, so some of the results could come out soon.

And the fate of Deputy Fire Chief Dan Nolan remains unclear. He's on administrative leave after making critical comments at a recent fire department review panel connected to the matter.

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