Firefighters wash their gear after every working fire, which helps remove carcinogens. Traditionally, gear is then air-dried, which can take several days to complete. If a fire happens in the meantime, firefighters must don wet gear, which is both uncomfortable and can be dangerous.
“Any time firefighters go into a structural fire they come out with an enormous amount of carcinogens on the fire gear,” said Chief Scott Owen. “With an emphasis on cancer prevention in the fire service, we have been continuing to make changes in the way we operate. When the firefighters return to the station and get everything back in order and ready for the next response, the next step is to clean themselves up and wash their fire gear.”
Commercial fire gear dryers are expensive, starting at around $5,000 for a dryer capable of drying two sets of gear per session. To expedite the drying process, Red Shift firefighters researched homemade alternatives and built a new fire gear dryer that accommodates eight sets of fire gear in one session.
“This will get the fire gear back in service sooner, protecting our members,” said Owen. “These types of dryers are available commercially, ranging in price from a couple thousand dollars to upwards of 10 or $15,000, if not more. The lower cost units are capable of drying 1 or 2 sets of fire gear at a time, whereas our dryer is able to dry up to 8 sets of gear at one time. The total cost for this units was just under $1000.”
Those wishing to help the department with future projects are welcome to contact the department at 715-486-2094.