Atlanta fire chief investing tens of thousands for firefighter safety

- They put their lives on the line after every call, firefighters battling heavy flames, breathing through clouds of smoke, and rescuing people from burning buildings. But Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker is concerned for the firefighters’ health. He’s now asking for the city to step in, step up, and get these brave men and women into more protective gear.

When they are fighting structure fires, there can be exposure to hydrogen cyanide and methane gas. Those are a couple of the gases to which they can be exposed. Now, the chief want to make sure that his firefighters do not get illnesses from these gases, and so he’s prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to keep the firefighters free from those gases.

“So what we don’t want to happen, we don’t want cross contamination between this firefighting gear to get contaminated into their personal clothing,” said Chief Baker.

FOX 5’s Morse Diggs stopped by Station 16 in northwest Atlanta to see the special precautions the fire team is taking in inhaling gear that has just been exposed to chemical toxins from building fires. The clothing is put in a special industrial washer and the chief showed FOX 5 News the high tech drying machine that completes the process.

Of course if one figures they are drying this and it takes 45 minutes to an hour to dry, what happens at 16 if these firefighters immediately get another call? They should have a second piece of gear to go in, right? Citizens may surprise that it’s only been in the last few years under Mayor Kasim Reed that the firefighters have invested the funds to make sure that at every fire station around the city has two sets of gear to wear, a special mask to wear, their own, so that the individual firefighter will have the gear they are working in and try to eliminate what he calls cross contamination.

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