By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON – Bloomington firefighters will be getting additional gear that’s intended to keep them safer, long after the fire is out.
Alderman on Monday night approved spending $282,000 for a second set of what’s called turnout gear, the coats and pants that protect the firefighters from fire and smoke and the chemicals that can cause cancer.
“The firemen get out of one fire, they take all of that off and then a little while later another fire comes up,” Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen said. “Then they jump into their turnout gear. They get into the same gear that has those same carcinogens in it that they are breathing into their lungs. It’s very hazardous to the firemen.”
PODCAST: Listen to Scott’s interview with Rasmussem on WJBC.
Rasmussen said the new equipment will help firefighters rotate gear in and out of service for cleaning.
“You’d like to have another set of turnout gear so when they go to the fire, they can go into a clean set of gear,” Rasmussen said. “It’s much safer for the firemen.”
He added firefighters have the highest rates of lung cancer among city employees and have the shortest life spans after they retire.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.