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Making A Difference One Set Of Turnout Gear At A Time

by | Dec 18, 2023

Time For Action

Cancer in the fire service is the leading cause of death among firefighters. Odds are if you’re reading this, occupational cancer has impacted your own community. We can continue to list the statistics and talk about the numbers but what does that achieve? We know this is an epidemic in our industry and the time for talking is over, the time for action is now.

As firefighters, we knew the risks we signed up for. Not everyone can put their community before themselves every single day, but we know that is the job and we do it with pride. What many people don’t know is that even if you make it to retirement, there is still one major risk you can’t escape – your increased risk of cancer from just doing your job.

There are ways to mitigate our risk of cancer and reduce our long term exposure to carcinogens and there are organizations out there working to educate the fire service about early detection and cancer prevention. Our goal with this article is not to sell anyone into using one specific service or donate to one organization over another, it is to simply highlight that as a community there are resources available to create a path forward for future generations of firefighters to not share the same fate as so many before them.

Reducing The Risk Of Cancer

There are three ways toxic contaminants can enter our body. Either ingested, inhaled, and absorbed through the skin and wearing contaminated turnout gear opens all three of these doors. We can’t control what chemicals we come in contact with during a fire but we must control what chemicals we come in contact with after a fire. The proper handling and maintenance of turnout gear can have a huge impact on the amount of harmful carcinogens we come in contact with on a daily basis.

RedLine Gear Cleaning™ is one organization working to create a change in culture around “salty” gear. Not only by educating firefighters on the risks of contaminated turnout gear, but by providing Advanced Cleaning tactics specifically designed for the fire service.

Started by a career firefighter, RedLine was born out of necessity. After years of watching turnout gear being handled improperly or being sent out to be cleaned for weeks by an off-site ISP, RedLine Founder, Mike Matros designed the first gear cleaning service to provide on-site Advanced Cleaning and Inspection services utilizing a patented truck design called the Mobile Extraction Unit® (MEU). The MEU as it is called, has the capacity to clean and inspect 40+ sets of turnout gear in a single day, all while never leaving the fire station. This means departments can decontaminate gear and have it back in service faster than ever before.

Together, We Can Make A Difference

In partnership with Emergency Decon Services, RedLine’s MEU has been a welcome sight for New York State fire departments. Both RedLine and Emergency Decon Services are firefighter owned and operated organizations whose main goal above all is to protect those that protect our communities. This is why both businesses choose to donate a portion of revenue to non-profit organizations like DetecTogether and Firefighter Cancer Support Network. These organizations work tirelessly to educate our community on the importance of early detection and cancer awareness.