Firefighters to be cleaner, safer
Florence firefighters as well as those in neighboring departments will be cleaner and safer because of a grant from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Kansas Firefighter Recruitment and Safety Grant program selected Florence and five other fire departments in the state to get specialized washer/extractor machines designed to remove dangerous chemicals and particulate matter from bunker gear worn to fight fires.
“We’ll put our bunker gear in there and it will pull all the carcinogens out,” said Florence fire chief Mark Slater. “In the smoke from a fire, there’s all kinds of carcinogens in there. We need to get that stuff washed out.”
The machines look like commercial washing machines, but have a slower spin cycle to do a better job of removing chemicals and particulates.
“New furniture, carpets, and the like give off a gas like cyanide and formaldehyde,” Slater said. “We’re inside there fighting a fire, or right after the fire, and those things are still releasing that chemical.”
Slater said when he read about the grant, he called the KSFM office, then asked Florence city clerk Janet Robinson to fill out the application.
Slater said the price of a washer/extractor ranges from $5,000 to $12,000.
The grant comes with one string attached, though.
“By getting one of these, I have to allow other departments to come in here to wash their gear,” Slater said. “When other departments want to come in and wash their gear, it will be available to them.”
Slater said the grant does not require matching funds, so none of the cost comes from local tax money.
The dollar amount of the grant will not be known until KSFM decides where to buy the machines.