Bellevue adopts FARS code as part of fire safety upgrade

Now the Firefighter Air Replenishment Systems must be installed in all new high-rise buildings.

Joining a growing number of cities committed to improving firefighter safety the city of Bellevue recently adopted the code requiring the installation of Firefighter Air Replenishment Systems (FARS) in all new high-rise building and transportation tunnels over 300 feet.

Included as part of a broad overview of the city’s fire safety policies, the recent move makes Bellevue one of more than 100 US municipalities requiring FARS in the construction of structures that pose increased risk to first responders.

FARS is a fixed-pipe system that allows firefighters to replenish their breathing apparatus at refill stations located throughout a structure—without having to leave the fire scene. Crews always have access to a steady supply of air, which increases their safety and allows them to remain fully engaged in fire suppression activities.

“The Bellevue Fire Department has always made firefighter safety a priority,” said Bellevue fire marshal Ken Carlson in a press release. “The new FARS requirement was a real cooperative effort between the local fire service and community stakeholders. The result will be safer environments for firefighters to work in, which always has a positive impact on public safety.”

According to chief Mario Treviño, executive director of the Firefighter Air Coalition, a public advocacy group committed to enhancing firefighter and public safety, Bellevue’s adoption of the new code is an enlightened response the risks faced by today’s fire crews.

“Buildings keep getting taller, more complex, and far more dangerous for firefighters.” said Treviño in a press release. “Yet the safety systems we provide in these buildings remain stuck in the past. We need to do better.”

Treviño cited the recent Trump Tower fire in New York City, in which one resident was killed and six firefighters injured.

“The biggest danger in that fire, as in almost every fire, was smoke,” he said in a press release. “Crews had a tough time pushing through the smoke to get to those in peril. If they’d had access to fresh air on demand, perhaps the outcome would have been different.”