Firefighter breathing units ‘prone to failure,’ City of Abbotsford alleges in lawsuit

City of Abbotsford sues manufacturer of equipment it bought for nearly $500,000, saying breathing devices turned out to be 'dangerous'

The City of Abbotsford is bought dozens of self-contained breathing apparatuses in 2014, but is now suing the manufacturer and distributor, alleging the devices were 'dangerous.'

The City of Abbotsford is bought dozens of self-contained breathing apparatuses in 2014, but is now suing the manufacturer and distributor, alleging the devices were 'dangerous.'

Firefighters depend on high-tech equipment to allow them to work in hazardous environments with superheated gas, but the City of Abbotsford alleges nearly $500,000 worth of breathing apparatuses it bought just two years ago were “dangerous products” that failed repeatedly.

The devices have already been replaced, and the City of Abbotsford filed suit Tuesday against the American manufacturer of the apparatuses and the Langley company from which it bought the devices.

In its statement of claim, the city says it bought 83 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units manufactured by Avon Protection Systems from Northwest Safework Solutions in September 2014 at a cost of $471,487, excluding tax.

The units were supposed to comply with standards set by the Workers Compensation Board and the National Fire Protection Association that required the devices to have a 30-minute air supply.

In the lawsuit, the city says that as it attempted to put the units into service, it found the O-ring in the units “was prone to failure, which would cause the air supply contained in the Avon Units to leak, and to be depleted within a time of less than one minute.”

The units also didn’t “seat properly within the frames that held them,” the notice of claim alleges. The city says that hindered the removal and exchange of air cylinders.

The notice of claim says the city notified the companies about the defects, but the problems weren’t fixed. The city says the products thus proved to be “dangerous products in their ordinary and intended use in fire fighting operations.”

It says that before the city signed its deal with the companies, it was promised by Avon that previously identified problems had been fixed.

The city has since bought other devices and is seeking damages, along with payment for costs associated with the purchase of the units.

Neither Avon nor Northwest Safework Solutions has filed a response to the notice of claim, nor have they yet responded to a request for comment.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Abbotsford News