First-of-its-kind safety coming to local fire department

Courtesy: Alex Cano
Courtesy: Alex Cano(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 31, 2018 at 6:24 PM CDT
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Firefighters have a greater chance of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and twice as likely to be diagnosed with testicular and prostate cancer.

For this reason, the Belton Fire Department is making it a top priority to protect their firefighters.

More and more, firefighters fight more than fires. They are also more likely to battle cancer.

“Those cancers are linked directly to firefighting and the chemicals they are exposed, too,” Belton Fire Department Chief Bruce Pritchard said.

For the first time, the Belton firefighters are getting trained on how to reduce the chances of being exposed to dangerous chemicals after a fire.

The chief said they will go through a decontamination process.

“We wash the firefighters down, after a fire and bag their gear up and it stays sealed …We actually put those firefighters and their apparatus out of service following the fire and give them time to go back and wash things down. Take a shower and get ready for service again” Pritchard said.

The means his firefighters could be out of service for up to an hour but the chief says these procedures are necessary to protect the firefighters

“We have plans in place to bring other fire agencies to help cover the city” Pritchard said.

These changes not only affect the firefighters but their families as well.

“I have a family and three kids at home. It’s not only for myself, my health but for them” Belton Fire Department paramedic, David Holloway said.

Holloway believes his department is the first, if not one of only a handful, to implement this new procedure.

The training took place over three days.