Fire Dept. Seeks to Reduce High Cancer Risk with Proper Cleaning Equipment

J.D. O’Gara
$25K Capital Request on Town Warrant Would Purchase Gear Extractor and Dryer
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

Holliston Fire Department Chief Cassidy approached the Holliston Board of Selectmen on April 9th about adding a warrant article on the May 7th, 2018 Town Meeting for a $25,000 capital request (Firefighter Cancer Awareness and Prevention initiative).
“Cancer is a very serious problem in the fire service,” says Cassidy, who is concerned for his firefighters’ having only a regular washer and dryer to clean their turnout gear. “Firefighters have three times a higher rate of cancer and three times the higher rate of neoplasms (2010 United HealthCare/DCFF Health Trust Findings),” said Cassidy, who explains that this higher incidence leads to a higher cost of healthcare claims, according to a United HealthCare/Dade CO Health Trust study One year of treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma is $760,321, for example. In fact, Fox 25, he says, did a spotlight on the high incidence of cancer among firefighters. ( )
“Our concern is we want to make sure our gear is cleaned and dried properly,” says Cassidy.

If the appropriation were to pass, the funds would pay for a Gear Extractor and Dryer. Cassidy explains that this equipment uses a special solution that binds to carcinogens, ultimately properly decontaminating gear.
“In addition to requesting funds for the gear extractor and gear drying equipment, we have already received an educational program from Firefighter Cancer Support Network, and have issued wipes to all of the structural firefighting apparatus in our fleet – for decontamination of head/neck and hands at the scene of fires, before the personnel return to the station,” says Cassidy.
The Chief says he has also accepted $500 from the Superette and a $1,500 grant from the Framingham Union Aid Association for the town’s Firefighter Cancer Awareness and Prevention initiative.