Industrial-grade laundry machines donated to Fla. fire department

Officials say the washers and dryers will help reduce firefighters' cancer risk and save the department thousands of dollars


Katie Kustura
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

DELAND, Fla. — DeLand firefighters will now be able to clean their gear more efficiently after DaVita Labs donated two sets of barely-used industrial-grade washers and dryers.

"For us to get them, it's just an incredible opportunity to provide for the safety and health of our firefighters and the continued health of our firefighters, and DaVita Labs recognizes that," Fire Chief Todd Allen said Friday morning at the diagnostic laboratory in the Northwest Industrial Business Park. "The turnaround time is important to get the gear back to the firefighters, and this is going to help tremendously."

Laura Chorost, right, speaks with DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen about why DaVita Labs donated two sets of industrial-grade washers and dryers to the fire department on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Chorost, who previously worked as a lieutenant with Volusia County Fire, is the environmental, health and safety administrator at DaVita Labs in DeLand. (Photo/News-Journal, Katie Kustura)
Laura Chorost, right, speaks with DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen about why DaVita Labs donated two sets of industrial-grade washers and dryers to the fire department on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Chorost, who previously worked as a lieutenant with Volusia County Fire, is the environmental, health and safety administrator at DaVita Labs in DeLand. (Photo/News-Journal, Katie Kustura)

Firefighters face a 9% increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general U.S. population, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Laura Chorost, the environmental, health and safety administrator for DaVita Labs, knows all too well what firefighters face — she previously served as a lieutenant with Volusia County Fire.

Chorost said she remembers when research began revealing the dangers of not cleaning gear as soon as possible.

"It was potentially harmful for not only us, but if we were transporting our gear back and forth from fire station to fire station that we actually were possibly getting those contaminants in our own personal vehicles," Chorost said.

The donation is also a cost savings to the city, as these industrial-grade machines usually cost between $5,000 to $10,000 each.

Fire Station 81, which will be rebuilt at the northwest corner of Howry and Clara avenues, is going to be constructed with the importance of decontamination in mind.

"When they come back from a fire, they can go into an area, get their gear off and they can shower quickly, so we don't drag those materials back into the fire station and into their eating areas and sleeping areas," Allen said.

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©2020 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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