ST. PAUL — Carcinogens are left behind in firefighters’ turnout gear after the fire is over, but more than 2,300 firefighters in 73 departments
across Minnesota will soon have access to equipment that removes them.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) awarded approximately $600,000 in grants earlier this month to fire departments across the state. Thirty departments received funding for gear washers, 27 departments received funding for gear dyers, and 16 departments received funding to purchase both washers and dryers.
“Minnesota’s firefighters put their lives on the line to save others. There is no reason they should further risk their lives when they return to their fire stations and go home to their families,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “This equipment is necessary to ensure the safety of Minnesota firefighters.”
Studies show that firefighters are exposed to carcinogens during fires and are further exposed via soiled turnout gear. Minnesota fire departments have implemented turnout gear decontamination procedures in recent years to help reduce firefighter exposure to toxic combustion byproducts. Health problems associated with exposure to these byproducts include lung damage, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.
Mechanical turnout gear washers and dryers are the most effective and efficient way to clean gear after a fire, but that equipment is often too expensive for fire departments to purchase on their own. The SFMD has awarded 145 Minnesota fire departments approximately $1.1 million in grants for turnout gear washers/extractors and dryers since 2015.
The grants were funded by the Minnesota Fire Safety Account (FSA). The Fire Service Advisory Committee decides how money from the FSA is allocated.
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.