Portage la Prairie firefighters were in the classroom today, learning the ins and outs of 20 new self-contained breathing apparatus units they've received.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Holmes says it was a $177,000 purchase, but feels it's money well spent.

"These are life and death for firefighters," he says, "Any time firefighters go into any toxic atmospheres, these are what will make the difference between them getting injured, sick, dying, or coming out alive."

He adds it feels good to provide firefighters with state of the art equipment.

"MSA has been really good with supplying us with all the options that we wanted," he says, "And ensuring that the equipment's going to meet the needs that our firefighters need here in Portage la Prairie."

Tarrant Rempel from ABC Fire Safety Limited talks about some of the units' features.

"The MSA-G1, some unique features it has is the lithium-ion re-chargeable battery, as well as upgradability," he says, "So, basically, like your smartphone, you can hook this up to a laptop, and update the firmware in it, as they make improvements to the electronics. You don't have to send it away for servicing in order to do that."

Deputy Chief Holmes adds there'll be another training session Thursday night for part-time firefighters, as well as ongoing refresher sessions.