Heavy gear protects firefighters from the roaring flames they face when saving lives. But, when the fire is out, the risks remain. Harmful gases and carcinogens can linger and can kill.
Special devices are saving the lives of the men and women who lay their lives on the line for us during fires and other emergency responses.
Decontamination kits help cut the number of cancer-causing chemicals firefighters face every day on the job. And a proposed bill would help every fire department in Florida to get them.
“I think everybody in every walk of life, cancer has touched somebody in some way,” said Gene Rogers, the assistant of of chief operations at South Trail Fire & Rescue District. “But, in the fire service, it’s definitely more prevalent. We have had a loss from cancer in our own agency.”
Decontamination kits include a brush, duct tape and dish soap. All these household items are enough to save the lives of those who fight fires.
South Trail firefighters uses decontamination kits after every fire, washing down, storing and sealing exposed gear.
“Not real high pressure hose stream but just enough to wash that stuff off,” Rogers said.
The proposed bill would expand the process statewide. If passed, it would create a grant program, so that all Florida fire departments have access to decontamination kits.
A different bill that passed recently provides firefighters with death benefits for those diagnosed with cancer, covering them for 21 different types.
In addition to providing the kits, the proposed bill would also fund educational training to mitigate exposure to cancer causing chemicals. The grants would be awarded on a needed basis.
“All in an effort to leave the contaminants of the fire scene at the fire scene,” Rogers said.