Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Safety gear a hit when heat goes on

Twenty Hawke's Bay firefighters tested new safety gear as they "rescued" seven students in a training exercise at Havelock North High School.

New face masks equipped with a special breathing apparatus were worn for the drill, which involved volunteer firefighters from the Havelock North station.

Senior fire officer Anita Murrell said the masks, being rolled out throughout the country, scored top points from the fire crew.

"Inside the mask is an electronic voice enhancer, so you can hear the person next to you a lot better."

They also linked to the Fire Service radio system, eliminating the need for walkie-talkies, Mrs Murrell said.

For the Monday night drill, students hid themselves in the the school auditorium, which had been blacked out and filled with smoke.

Firefighters worked in pairs to locate and remove each of the students as quickly as possible, as they would in a real fire.

"It was great - it gave us an opportunity to do training somewhere different," Mrs Murrell said.

"And there's the added benefit that we get to know the school [layout] a bit better."

Mrs Murrell said the new masks had already been used in one house fire since they arrived about a month ago.

Firefighters called out to a Havelock North house fire were wearing the masks when they rescued two children and their mother from their Woodland Drive home.

The masks also have a motion sensor that lets officers know if someone may be trapped or knocked out on the job, Mrs Murrell said. "If something had fallen on your [firefighter] head and you got knocked out ... they would go off after you had been lying there for a while."

Mrs Murrell said people should also check their smoke alarms this weekend when daylight saving rolls round.

Clocks will need to be turned forward one hour on Sunday .

- Hawkes Bay Today

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