CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – The Carmel Fire Department has purchased new tools to help protect firefighters from cancer-causing chemicals – a washer and dryer system.
Cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters, says Tim Griffin, public information officer for the department.
Firefighters can be exposed to hundreds of chemicals in the form of gases, vapors and particles, some of which are known or suspected to cause cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If a firefighter’s protective clothing, called bunker gear, is not properly cleaned or stored after a fire or training session, carcinogens on the gear can easily spread. Reusing dirty gear or protective gear can also expose firefighters to these hazardous materials, according to the CDC.
To help reduce the risk of exposure to these carcinogens, the fire department purchased a new washer and dryer system, Griffin says.
“We are taking the next step to attack what is really attacking us. And that’s cancer,” Griffin said.
The fire department now has two washers that can wash six sets of gear at once and all Carmel fire stations use the same setup, with approximately 175 sworn firefighters using the washer and dryer system.
Previously, the department used an out-of-state company to clean turnout gear, but decided to use its own system because the cleaning company did not meet the necessary standards.