January is firefighter cancer awareness month

According to the CDC, firefighters are twice as likely to get Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos inhalation, than the general population.
Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 5:34 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - According to the CDC firefighters are twice as likely to get Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos inhalation, than the general population. When a fire erupts in a home, the synthetic materials in couches, carpets, and cleaning products go up with it.

Firefighters are surrounded by chemicals, especially in the middle of a ravaging fire. But when Madelia got their new firehouse, they gained the ability to practice safe measures ensuring these chemicals stay away from them.

They used to be made of wood furniture. Wood was that type of thing. Well, not there’s so many plastics and all that; think about sitting around a campfire putting in a piece of plastic. Most people wouldn’t want to eat a hot dog off of that campfire if they just put a plastic cup in there,” said fire chief Ryan Visher. “Well, think about that now, but your entire contents of your home with all of those petrol chemicals that are in everything we have.”

The Red Room, made possible in part by a donation of a Washer and Dryer from the Minnesota Fire Marshall, cleans their gear of hazardous chemicals.

“For our gear, we can wash it and get all the chemicals and contaminants out of there and then keep it off our clothes and everything so we’re not tracking it around the fire hall,” explained firefighter Cody Eager.

“If we were in a nasty fire, let’s just say it was a crack house or that, everything has lots of chemicals,” said Visher, “We would need to actually spray ourselves off before we even got to the hall, just so we didn’t have that coming back.”

The chemical exposure on fire suits is why children are no longer allowed to try on the firefighter’s gear.