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ADA – Some old air finds new life at East Central University thanks to a donation from the City of Ada Fire Department.

“We’re glad to be able to donate this equipment where they will get more use in training ECU students,” Ada Fire Chief Rob Johnson said. The donation was possible due to a grant to the AFD.

The donation – 12 self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) and 24 bottles of air – was given to the Environmental Health Science program at ECU to give students hands on training before they graduate.

“This is a great opportunity,” Interim ECU President Jeffrey Gibson said. “We appreciate this donation and the relationship ECU has with the City of Ada.”

Dr. Guy Sewell, Environmental Health Science professor and Ada City Council member, explained the SCBA units will help students learn the proper use of personal protective equipment and obtain their 40-hour HAZWOPER certificate. HAZWOPER is an acronym that stands for “Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.” This training is useful for careers working with hazardous waste, such as safety and compliance officers or hazardous material tracking and management.

Typically, the 40-hour version of the HAZWOPER certificate costs over $500, Sewell said. That training is offered to ECU undergrads as part of their courses at no additional cost.

“This is worth thousands of dollars in training equipment for our students,” Sewell said. “This allows our students to be certified before they graduate.”

Sewell explained that as part of their training, the class will get into a hazmat suit while wearing a mask, the breathing apparatus and the bottle. The students then go through a circuit while performing tasks, like picking up dice or stepping over obstacles, tasks similar to experiences in the field.

All of this enhances the environmental health student experience thanks to the Ada Fire Department.

“We were able to secure a grant for new equipment,” Chief Johnson said. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is a FEMA grant, allowed for the purchase of $175,000 in equipment, with the city matching 5%. Johnson said the new equipment has infrared capabilities built into the mask, allowing firefighters to see the fire through the smoke if they have to enter a burning structure.

“These have a 15-year life,” Johnson said, referring to the donated equipment, “but they are still functional.”

Sewell said he would now be able to “dress out” at least half of classes for the training. With a smile, Johnson said the students should get a good idea of the limited visibility and cumbersome heavy equipment.

For more information on the Environmental Health Science program at East Central University, please visit For more information on the City of Ada, please visit

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