The Tisbury Fire Department recently received a grant for a specialized washing machine that will cleanse firefighter turnout gear of toxic residue, such as from smoke. The grant, which is just shy of $6,500, comes from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the Department of Fire Services.
“We now know that the risk of being diagnosed with occupational cancer is among the greatest threats faced by modern firefighters, and having an NFPA-compliant gear washing program is critical to mitigating that risk,” State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said in a release. “We are thankful that the commonwealth has made this a priority, and invested in the advancement of the ongoing cancer prevention efforts of fire departments across the state.”
Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling told The Times that contaminants lingering on turnout gear have proved to be carcinogens, and a national movement is afoot to safeguard firefighters from exposure to them.
Schilling said the machine, called a gear washer-extractor, is unlike typical household washing machines. He described the machine as “highly specialized,” and able to spin at “a very high rate of speed.” He noted his department will seek competitive quotes.
“We do have very specific requirements, so we know exactly what we’re looking for.”