Gas monitors protect firefighters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gas monitors protect firefighters

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Albany Firefighters will soon use monitors to check air quality while fighting fires and warn them about dangerous fumes. A recent study found firefighters suffer high cancer rates because of long term exposure to contaminants from fires.

The old term "Smoke Eaters" for firefighters was considered by some a badge of courage, or just part of the job, but recent studies found that breathing smoke could make one of the most dangerous jobs in the world even more deadly.

When firefighters are battling a blaze, they wear air packs, self contained breathing apparatus, to protect them from the smoke. But now research finds that the smoke being released after the fire is put out could be even more dangerous.

Albany Deputy Fire Chief Ron Rowe said, "You have carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, lower levels of oxygen. There may even be some flammable gases still available in the house."

Next week firefighters will be equipped with these gas monitors that will test four levels of gases. Firefighters will use these to determine when it's safe to stop using their air tanks. Research has found toxins still in firefighter's bodies years after retirement.

"When you are so-called being exposed to all that smoke and those products you are damaging your body. You may not see it now, but over time it compounds the issue and it's going to reduce your life expectancy," Rowe said.

32 year old Joey Rogers is one of the young firefighters, who has seen older firefighters fighting health problems. He welcomes this new technology. "Over the years we hear about firefighters who have cancer and other illnesses. And not being here that long, that may be something that prolongs my life," he said.

Firefighters will check the monitors to determine gases around them, and continue using their air tanks until the levels are tested clear. Technology to better protect firefighter's safety and health, today and years from now.

"Today's time, advancements in technology. I feel like it's better for us, than it was back then," Rogers said. "What we are trying to do is not expose these employees to these kinds of toxins, and let them enjoy their life a lot longer in retirement."

Research found that cancers of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems were the primary drivers of the higher cancer rates in firefighters. Breathing less smoke and fewer contaminants from fires will hopefully help those health issues.

Research has found that more of today's synthetic items like furniture and building materials put off more toxic gas than natural products from a few decades ago. The gas monitors cost about $400 each. The Albany Fire Department puts them into use next week.

 

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