FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - Firrefighters face danger every time they respond to a call. But, studies now show firefighters are three times more likely to develop cancer than regular citizens. And now one local fire department is trying to reduce that risk.
For firefighters, fire scenes are not only dangerous, but also very dirty.
According to Lt. Jason Roberts with the Fond du Lac Fire Department, "Immediately following a fire, we get back to the station and get into the shower and try to remove all of those byproducts as much as we can."
It's those byproducts from fires that are potentially putting firefighters at risk. So, in addition to steps taken at the scene to clean up before heading back to their stations to shed gear and shower, the Fond du Lac Fire Department has added a Post Fire Carcinogen Reduction Booth to one of its stations. The system, similar to a sauna, will be used by firefighters after they take an initial post-fire shower.
"We're going to sit in the booth anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes until we get a good sweat. It's going to open up our poors, the toxins will get out and then we'll take a shower and wash off all of those toxins," says Asst. Chief Erick Gerritson from the Fond du Lac Fire Department.
Fond du Lac is the first fire department in Northeast Wisconsin to have a the booth. Similar systems have been used in other parts of the country and in the southern part of the state where it appears to be effective.
Gerritson says, "It is proven that after sitting in the booth for ten to fifteen minutes, firefighters will wipe themselves off and there will be products of combustion, black soot on the cloth so we think it works."
The booth is simply a proactive approach to protect the future health of those who risk so much for others.
Lt. Roberts adds, "This is one more of those initiatives to check off to make sure we're doing everything possible to protect our members of the department.
The Geiger Family Foundation along with the Agnesian Healthcare Foundation funded the Post Fire Carcinogen Reduction Booth. The fire department hopes to add additional systems to its other two fire houses.