Mount Dora firefighters expect to be safer over the long haul with the addition of new personal protection equipment.
Firefighters watched a demonstration, learned about cancer prevention, and conducted training in the new gear Thursday, June 14, when representatives from Municipal Equipment Company visited Fire Station 34, 1300 N. Donnelly St., a news release states.
The Mount Dora City Council in February approved the purchase of the new bunker gear, also known as personal protection equipment, which will be used when the original gear used for firefighting purposes becomes contaminated with hazardous substances.
Recent studies found firefighters are developing cancer from wearing contaminated gear, the release states. Firefighter cancer rates are becoming the leading cause of death within the fire service, and to help prevent cancer, it is recommended that the personal protection equipment be decontaminated with an extractor after each fire to rid the gear of carcinogens.
As a preventive measure, the second set of gear was purchased to help minimize the risk to Mount Dora firefighters. Other measures will be implemented at scenes, including washing down external gear, providing wipes for firefighters, and demonstrating the proper way to handle gear that has collected debris, according to the release.
In 2010, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health began a study of nearly 30,000 firefighters in several large fire departments to understand the potential link between firefighting and cancer. The study was completed in 2015 and found higher rates of certain types of cancers in firefighters than in the general U.S. population, the release states. Firefighters had a greater number of digestive, oral, respiratory, urinary, and prostate cancers. These studies have shown the cancers develop from contaminants that collect on the firefighters’ equipment.
Here is a link to the study: cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/ff-cancer-factsheet-final.pdf.
In a separate training excursion, Lake County Fire Rescue personnel recently attended the National Fire Academy’s Florida State Weekend at Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The training classes offered firefighters an opportunity to further their experience and education with instruction from subject-matter experts, a news release states. Alongside their peers from Maine and Indiana, six members of Lake County Fire Rescue studied fire investigation, strategy, and tactics for the initial arriving company officer.
To date, more than 45 Lake County firefighters have attended the academy.
“While the national average for fire departments is less than 2 percent attendance, Lake County is now proud to have 23 percent of its staff having attended this national training—an unbelievable accomplishment,” Fire Chief Jim Dickerson says in the release. “Our firefighters gained valuable knowledge not only from the course curriculum, but also through their fellow firefighters. I am thankful that Lake County prides itself on training and professional development, allowing our personnel to participate in the annual event.”
Attendance to the academy is free and provides a lifetime of networking with fire service professionals throughout the world. The chief plans to bring another six firefighters to training next year.
Lake County Fire Rescue protects residents and visitors in an area covering approximately 1,200 square miles, with nearly 70,000 residences and up to 2,000 commercial properties, according to the release. For more information, visit facebook.com/lakecountyfirerescue or twitter.com/lakefirepio.