They are Conestoga's full-time, pre-service firefighting students and their oxygen is found in their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and accompanying air tanks.
Thanks to a thoughtful donation by the Cambridge Fire Department this January, they can now breathe a little easier.
The fire department donated 42 SCBAs and 47 air tanks that will be used by students in Conestoga's Pre-Service Firefighting Program, a basic training program for firefighters.
If purchased new, each SCBA costs $7,000 and an air cylinder is over $400. The total donation is valued at over $300,000.
This generous gift will give students the opportunity to train with current equipment to simulate conditions they will face in a real emergency situation.
Brad Kueneman, Coordinator of Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training, said that the equipment will greatly improve the hands-on training that is a significant part of the program.
"Up until now the students have had to share the equipment we have," Kueneman said. "Now students will all have their own units, which they can take ownership of."
Whether students are learning search and rescue techniques or participating in live fire training, these items are used extensively.
"We use them in all kinds of training exercises - firefighter survival, search and rescue, fire suppression, and overhaul exercises. It provides a very real learning experience as firefighters use this equipment on an almost daily basis," said Kueneman.
A SCBA is considered a firefighter's personal protective equipment, and is vital to protecting the wearer's respiratory system in a fire. This donation makes it possible for students to train with the same breathing apparatus that is in use today by fire departments.
"This equipment will be instrumental in delivering the practical modules that prepare our students with the right stuff to enter into the firefighting field."