Stafford County is installing exhaust capture and removal systems in its stations to protect the health of its Fire and Rescue personnel. The diesel engines parked in the bays of stations produce a mixture of toxic gases and particulates from the combustion process, many of which contain known cancer-causing substances. The systems were already installed in some stations, but Stafford’s Board of Supervisors recently authorized the County to appropriate $488,627 to purchase them for all the stations.
“Our career and volunteer firefighters are one of our most valuable resources,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Meg Bohmke, Falmouth District. “This system will essentially eliminate exhaust fumes, gases, and particulate matter from the stations for the health and safety of our firefighters and EMTs, administrative personnel and visitors.”
When a fire truck or ambulance is started in the apparatus bay of the fire station, gases and particulates are released into the air and, over time, accumulate on the floor, the walls, and in many cases the protective clothing items that are stored nearby. The gases and soot can also find their way into the living quarters of the station through ductwork, doors and stairwells. Hazardous vehicle exhaust emissions in a fire station are one of the most significant cancer health risks for a firefighter or emergency medical technician. The Plymovent vehicle exhaust system connects to the exhaust pipe of the vehicle, then attaches to the exhaust removal motor and is activated when the vehicle is started. It then removes the exhaust to the exterior of the station at the roof line.
“We have been doubling our efforts at cancer prevention. When firefighters or inspectors come out of a fire, we give them a second clean suit to change into, or we do a full decontamination – at the scene, to prevent exposure to cancer-causing particulates,” said Stafford Fire and Rescue Chief Joseph Cardello. “The new exhaust system will enhance these efforts. I appreciate that the Board understands this is an important issue and is supporting us in installing this valuable system.”
Using the same systems in all stations will enable the continuity of operations as well as centralized purchasing of parts, repair order and any warranty needs that may arise. The system allows Fire and Rescue stations to comply with National Fire Protection Association air safety standards.