Fire departments use decontamination buckets to lower cancer risk

Local News

PENSACOLA, Fla (WKRG) — Studies show firefighters are nine percent more likely to get cancer than the general population and now more than 4,200 decontamination buckets have been delivered to fire departments across Florida for firefighters to use to reduce their risk of getting cancer.

The buckets are free for local departments thanks to Ten-8, the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative, and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network that collaborated to provide kits to 405 fire departments.

A firefighters gear and helmet covered in soot used to be like a badge of honor.

“Firemen that went to more calls, their helmets and their gear would be dirty and that was kind of a sign of a hardworking firefighter out there who got to go to a lot of calls and as you can see now most of these guys do a pretty good job of keeping their equipment pretty clean,” Escambia County Fire Rescue Captain Craig Ammons said.

Capt. Ammons said they keep it all clean to reduce their risk of getting cancer. ECFR just received 43 buckets for all 21 stations in the county.

“We’ve got dish soap, a nozzle, a scrub brush the guys will utilize to clean up, an adapter so they can hook up the hose that’s in here to the fire truck itself,” Ammons said as he showed News 5 what comes in the bucket.

After each fire, they help each other wash and scrub all the dirt away.

“There’s well over 20 or 30 known carcinogens in the smoke that’s produced at these fires..that’s all because of these synthetic materials that are so prevalent in all these homes and structures we go into,” Ammons said.

Earlier this year, Devon Walsh talked to Mobile Fire Chief Mark Sealy about his cancer diagnosis. It was caught early during a free screening at a fire chiefs’ summit.

“It’s a shock,” Chief Sealy said. “Cancer is prevalent, but it is always someone else. It is really is a shock.”

He and other fire chiefs want to do everything they can to keep their men and women from getting that same shocking news.

Buckets were distributed to stations Tuesday in Escambia County and they will give out more Wednesday.

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