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Tyler Fire Department asks for help from city to reduce risk of cancer

City of Tyler Fire Department asks city for funding to purchase new protective gear
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Firefighters dedicate their lives to keeping us safe by putting themselves in harm’s way. The dangers of the job can be easily seen in fires and other emergencies that firefighters respond to. However, there is another risk that can’t be seen.

The CDC cays cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters, and the Tyler Fire Department is asking for help from the city to reduce that risk.

They’re asking for additional funding to provide a second set of bunker gear, or firefighter protective gear, for all firefighters. This year, they’re asking for eight additional sets of bunker gear. According to Tyler Fire Marshal Paul Findley, they have a four-year goal of getting a second set of gear for every firefighter. Right now, they’ve reached about sixty percent of that goal.

Findley says that the investment is not just in the gear, but in the health of the firefighters.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters face a nine percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a fourteen percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population in the United States.

“That’s why probably in the past two to three, four years, you can point to some things at some stations [and see] that hopefully we’re moving the needle in the right direction,” says Findley.

Investing in two sets of bunker gear is one way Findley is moving the needle in the right direction.

According to the CDC, reusing dirty gear can result in exposures to hazardous substances either through skin contact or by breathing in particles from the contaminated gear.

“The goal after a fire, you clean up before you get back in the truck, get back to the station and showered up and hopefully you’ve got another set of gear to get in for that next call. And when all that works together, the hope is that the risk rate, that threat rate, will hopefully go down,” says Findley.

The final adoption of the City of Tyler’s 2022 budget is set for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

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