Friday, August 2, 2019

Firefighter Turnout Gear Funded

I met today with Gloucester Fire Department's Chief, Eric Smith and WBZ News Radio's Kendall Buhl to discuss the firefighter protection funding plan that I authored and secured in the state budget. The plan directs the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services to provide $500,000 for the purchase of firefighter turnout gear.

Firefighters regularly put themselves in harm’s way in order to save lives and protect property and  turnout gear is one of the most important things that protects them from serious harm. That’s why we need to support local departments in making sure that their members have enough gear, and that it’s in good condition.

Working with Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, I was able to secure a separate turnout gear grant of $50,000 specifically for Gloucester firefighters.

The protective gear, known as personal protective equipment, is made of fire resistant materials, typically a blend of artificial fibers such as Kevlar. These articles are designed to prevent serious harm when firefighters come into contact with chemicals, electricity, fire or other dangers.

A growing body of research indicates that turnout gear must be cleaned after each use in a fire scene, in order to address properly the exposure to toxins and contaminants that can pose serious health risks to the wearer. In order to achieve this, and maintain necessary readiness status, departments most often must purchase and maintain two sets of gear for each firefighter. That, in turn, translates into a major expense for municipalities.

Ironically, flame retardant fabrics and materials such as carpeting and furniture, while treated chemically to slow flames, burns hotter and off gasses chemicals which are cancer-causing when ignited. Access to a second set of personal protective equipment is rapidly being seen as imperative.