Grants Help Fire Departments Purchase Cancer-Prevention Gear

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More than 170 fire departments across Massachusetts are sharing $920,000 in state grants for equipment intended reduce firefighters' exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

The Firefighter Turnout Gear Grant program will provide firefighters in 144 departments with new hoods and gloves. These will reduce exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the head and hand areas, About 3,000 hoods and 3,000 pairs of gloves will be purchased with the $500,000 grant.

Through the Washer-Extractor Equipment Grant, $420,000 was awarded to 75 departments for equipment to clean their gear after exposure to smoke and other toxic chemicals.

Forty-five fire departments were successful in applying for both grants.

 "Cleaning firefighting gear is not a long-standing tradition in the fire service," said Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon, president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of Massachusetts. "Soot and ash-laden gear was once the mark of a seasoned firefighter, but we now know that washing gear after every exposure to smoke is the safest thing to do."

Replacing old and damaged gear is a financial challenge for most every department in the state, Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said.

"These grant awards will ensure that a significant number of firefighters have access to hoods and gloves that will effectively protect them from exposure to dangerous contaminants," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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