Is Your Firehouse a Safe Place to Work, Eat and Sleep?

The following is sponsored content contributed by MagneGrip

By Ray Stefanelli *

Alarms are alarming! Combine heart-pounding response, the stress of crisis situations, breathing toxic smoke and combustion products, and you have a recipe for bodily breakdown. Those are some critical reasons why firefighters suffer from far more heart attacks and cancer than the general population.

In 2000, 40 percent of firefighter fatalities were from heart attacks. In 2008, the number jumped to 43 percent . . . and it’s not likely to go down. Some studies show certain cancer rates to be 150 to 300 percent higher in firefighters than in the general population.

The risks for heart attacks and the risks for cancer are similar. Discount heredity, and in broad terms, it boils down to Lifestyle. That encapsulates how you go about living your everyday life: what you eat and drink, how much you exercise, your waist size, how much you sleep, what you breathe, your stress level, and the general status of your health.

Firefighter job training tells you how to protect yourself in a hazardous environment. But what about your firehouse—where you work, eat and sleep? How safe is that environment?

Diesel Exhaust

Ever notice that black burst of smoke from the tailpipe when an apparatus is started? Ever notice how, in what seems like no time at all, the white walls in the bay area turn dingy gray?

Diesel exhaust contains over 100 individual hazardous chemical components (carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, benzene, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and others) and a large number of those components are listed by state and federal regulatory agencies as suspected carcinogens.

Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans. And, an often-cited University of Cincinnati comprehensive study determined that firefighters are at significantly higher risk for developing testicular cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma than non-firefighters.

Toxic gases and particulate emitted in diesel exhaust are not confined to the bay area. Every time a door is opened or if the doors are not well sealed, those pollutants also seep into the office area and living quarters?

Contaminated Equipment

When returning from a fire scene, are the apparatus, equipment and turnout gear cleaned before entering the bay area? Contaminants from the fire scene cling to skin, clothing and equipment and are transported back into the fire station, in addition to the toxic air being blown into the bay area from the tarmac.

The carbons and chemicals that impregnate gear and adhere to equipment during a fire can then be inhaled or absorbed through the skin in the firehouse. Those airborne poisons linger in the station . . . in the air, on the walls, and on the furniture.

Not only does this increase a firefighter’s risk for several cancers, it affects many aspects of bodily function: the lungs, kidneys, circulatory system, etc., and it makes it much harder for the heart to function properly.

Comprehensive solution

Fire departments and municipalities throughout the country are taking a hard look at the overwhelming statistics and warnings about firefighter/EMT health. Many fire departments are fixing the problem by combining two systems from one company to ensure that their firefighter/EMTs have maximum protection.

MagneGrip Group is the only company that manufactures both hose-type exhaust removal systems (which connect to the apparatus tailpipe) and air purification systems (filtration units that suspend from the ceiling). This combination of systems provides the most complete protection for fire personnel, as well as greater liability protection for municipalities. And it best fits the intent of FEMA and NFPA recommendations.

An American manufacturer, MagneGrip Group is ISO 9001:2008 Certified. The company has installed its exhaust removal systems in firehouses nationwide for 15 years—with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

*Ray Stefanelli writes articles for hospitals and physician groups, as well as fire publications.

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