NEW HAVEN - The New Haven Volunteer Fire Corp. is receiving an $11,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, announced the grant, which is used to supplement state and local budgets to ensure first responders and emergency service workers have the resources they need.
“These dollars will keep our communities safe,” Brindisi said. “Whether it is new training, fitness equipment, protective gear, or improvements to facilities, these resources will help our brave firefighters. When disaster strikes and emergency services are dispatched, it is important to know they have the best training, equipment, and resources to prevent further damage.”
New Haven Chief Kenneth Bogart said the department will use the money to buy a special washer-dryer-extractor for fire gear the firefighters wear at fires. He said it has been shown that this gear can absorb many toxins from the smoke at fires and regular domestic washing machines simply cannot get the toxins out of the gear.
“These machines will get the toxins right out of the fabric in the turnout gear,” he said.
Being near these toxins can be a precursor of various types of cancer, Bogart said.
In a story in The Atlantic from 2015, the writer states the smoke is the most dangerous thing firefighters encounter when fighting a fire. “Cancer is the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in the United States, and according to the International Association of Fire Fighters, about 60 percent of career firefighters will die this way, ‘with their boots off,’ as they call it,” the article states.
“The problem is our stuff. Possessions make our lives cozy and convenient, but when they catch fire, they become noxious fuel,” the article states. “The cancer rates are being driven up, researchers believe, by chemicals that lace the smoke and soot inside burning buildings. Consumer goods are increasingly manufactured using synthetic materials, and fires are more toxic as a result.”
“Studies have confirmed that firefighters’ gear and skin gets coated in higher levels of potentially carcinogenic compounds, such as phthalates — chemicals that are added to plastics to make them soft—as well as arsenic, lead, and mercury,” according to the Atlantic story.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is used by fire departments across the country to maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters and purchase vehicles, protective gear, equipment and training programs to better serve the community. Assistance to Firefighters Grant programs have been funded at $405 million.