Fla. city takes aggressive approach to remove exhaust from fire stations

To improve the health of Boynton Beach’s first responders, the city plans to install exhaust removal systems inside five fire stations

By Chelsea Todoro
The Palm Beach Post 

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — To improve the health of Boynton Beach’s first responders, the city plans to install new exhaust removal systems inside five fire stations to eradicate cancerous fumes.

Cancer risks linger among first responders, with diesel exhaust fumes a leading cause, Commissioner Joe Casello said during a recent meeting.

“Air quality in these stations are not what they should be,” Casello said. “I think this is the most important thing we can do for our first responders.”

Fire Chief Glenn Joseph agreed that diesel exhaust puts responders at higher risk for cancer, adding that all their units use diesel fuel.

“Our plan is very aggressive to minimize exposure and risk for first responders,” Joseph said. “Years ago we banned smoking among firefighters. We know that diesel exhaust is another risk that needs to be dealt with.”

Boynton’s fire stations have fans near station roofs and responders leave garage doors open to clear out fumes, Joseph said.

The new systems will have a hose connected to the exhaust pipes of the fire trucks that will pump fumes outside the building from the roof. Once the firetruck leaves the station the system will continue to remove exhaust from the garage for about five minutes, Joseph said.

Boynton joins South County neighbor Delray Beach, which uses the same system it had installed in 2015, according to Capt. Kevin Saxton.

Fire Station 3, on 3501 N. Congress Ave., will be the first station with the new system, Joseph said. Installation is expected to start in early November once commissioners approve a grant from FEMA that will cover the cost. Installations for the remaining stations will cost about $217,000 and will not be covered by the grant.

Fire Station 2, on 2615 Woolbright Road, Station 4, on 1919 S. Federal Highway, and Station 5, on 2080 High Ridge Road, will be completed in two phases. Exhaust systems will be installed inside the active bases and then the reserve bases, Joseph said. Active base installations are estimated to start in mid 2019. Because Station 1 is part of the new Town Square project, the exhaust system will be installed during its construction.

Joseph said the city is allocating funds within the recently approved budget to cover costs for the three stations. Commissioners discussed postponing re-pavement of the golf course, but nothing is official.

“I don’t think the roadway will deter people for visiting the golf course,” Commissioner Justin Katz said during the meeting.

The city also plans to use part of the FEMA grant to upgrade the fire rescue fleet with cleaner-running truck engines and new washer and driers to remove soot out of gear and dry uniforms faster, Joseph said.

“As technology improves we learn more and we can do more,” Joseph said.

Copyright 2018 The Palm Beach Post 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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