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Valley fire departments making changes to prevent cancer

Tempe Fire Department
Posted at 6:29 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 21:29:52-04

TEMPE, AZ — Fire departments across the Valley say they're making big changes in order to prevent crew members from getting cancer.

Fire Captain Kyle Carman with the Tempe Fire Department says crews are not only using wipes to clean off their skin immediately after fighting a fire, but they also have buckets in every truck that they fill with water and soap to scrub down everything they're wearing.

"Once we scrub it all down, we bag it up and send it in for cleaning," Carman said.

While it's being cleaned, crew members also now have a second set of gear to wear when going on another call. Carman says not long ago, that was unheard of.

"A hood covered in soot was kind of a cultural badge of honor," Carman said.

Another change, is the room where they store their gear. It used to be wide open, but they've since added walls, a door and a ventilation system so crews aren't breathing in any left over chemicals.

The department also has a ventilation system that attaches to the exhaust of the fire trucks so they're not constantly breathing in those fumes.

The hope is that the number of families dealing with cancer, and who've lost loved ones, will go down.

"We don't want to go through this and nobody should have to," Carman said.

The Tempe Fire Department is not the only department making changes.

A Mesa Fire Department spokesman said they've had a contained room for suppression gear for a number of years

A spokeswoman for the Surprise Fire Department said they are in the process of fitting all their firefighters with a second set of turnouts. The station also has a decontamination room, which allows firefighters to wash off toxins immediately.