TFD participate in study to pinpoint cancer-causing chemicals

Toledo Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Sterling Rahe shows off the Department's gear (courtesy:NBC

Toledo, OH (WNWO)--

"we had our turnout gear , the more dirtier your gear was the more seasoned you looked. It was just part of the bravado," said Sterling Rahe, speaking of his early days as a firefighter for Toledo Fire and Rescue.

Now, thanks to studies firefighters know better. The same cancer causing chemicals from the fire are deposited into their uniforms, putting them at risk.

"What the studies show are not only are we at a higher risk to develop and extract those type of cancers, some of those unfortunately we're at a higher risk for death," said Matthew Brixey, a Firefighter with the Cancer Support Network.

Because of this firefighters pay careful attention to make sure the chemicals don't come in contact with their skin. They keep air masks on longer, shower switch into new gear after every run.

And it's not just the type of gear, but the way they treat it, it's kept in a separate area and decontaminated once they get back to the station.

"What we do now is we take that gear off, put it in the extractors and clean them," said Private Rahe.

In addition, to the new gear, TFD is also participating in a new study in partnership with Ohio State University funded by the Bureau of Workers Compensation.

In the last week of Novemebr, 35 firefighters gave blood, urine and skin samples. Researchers then asked 6 more firefighters for samples—after battling a fire.

"They're just looking to see how long and if compounds stay in the body following fire exposure," said Brixey.

While they can't change past behaviors, they Department is making strides to help those in the future.

"If there's a fire ad you're in there we're going to come get you if we can, that's what we take the oath to do and I can assure everybody out there that's not going to change," said Brixey. What we're going to change is what we're doing after and how we're taking care of ourselves.

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