North East Joint Fire District Is Awarded “Mini-Grant” To Combat Firefighter Cancer
By NEJFD Executive Director Steven C. Small
January 19, 2023

“Back in the Day!”

We often hear the stories about “Back in the Day”, when firefighters wore turnout gear and helmets that were caked with soot, carbon and other toxic residue from fighting fires and participating in training. Being the experienced and seasoned firefighter also meant that your gear should show the evidence of your courage and valor. The dirtier the gear, the more experienced and accomplished the firefighter must be.

Thankfully things have changed over the years. We now know that firefighters are at higher risk than the general public of developing many types of cancers. This is partially due to their exposure to carcinogens and other toxins that are embedded into their firefighting gear. The fire service now recognizes that wearing contaminated firefighting gear places firefighters at significant risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

For these reasons a majority of fire districts, including the North East Joint Fire District, are placing a high priority on combating firefighter cancer. This includes having policies and procedures in place to ensure that our firefighters have clean and safe turnout gear. Part of this process includes the availability of an in-house turnout gear washer and proper turnout gear dryer.

The NEJFD has had an in-house turnout gear washer in operation for at least 15 years. What has been lacking is a proper and rapid way to dry the turnout gear. Currently it can take more than 24 hours to dry a set of gear. This actually creates a disincentive for firefighters to wash their gear because they don’t want to ‘be out of service’ while their gear is drying.

The North East Joint Fire District is proud to announce that we have received a “Mini-Grant” from PERMA, in partnership with the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, to procure a heated 4-station turnout gear dryer. The new dryer will properly dry up to 4 sets of turnout gear in as little as 2 hours. The gear dryer, manufactured by Ram-Air, aligns with gear manufacturer drying requirements and complies with NFPA 1851/FEMSA recommendations for drying gear.

The North East Joint Fire District hopes to have the new gear dryer operational by the mid to late March of this year.