Goodyear protecting firefighters from cancer | News

The city of Goodyear cut the ribbon on its newest fire station, making it the second facility with enhanced health and safety measures to protect the firefighters. 

Goodyear Fire Station No. 181 on 143rd Avenue between Van Buren Street and Celebrate Life Way is a 15,855-square-foot facility, with measures aimed to protect firefighters from cancer. 

Fire Station No. 186 was the first fire station with these measures in place and opened in January on Willis Road, east of Rainbow Valley Road.

“Safety is No. 1 — safety for the firefighters, and safety for our residents,” said Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord. “They will still be in danger when they fight fires, but we’re making it safer for them when they come home.”

According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, more than two-thirds of firefighters — or around 86% — develop cancer. The percentage for the general population to develop cancer is only 22%. Carcinogens from the fires track on the firefighting equipment and gear after wearing the contaminated gear around the fire station and in the trucks’ cabins. 

Fire Station No. 181 has multiple safety features to help the firefighters, like a decontamination corridor to clean firefighting gear as soon as it returns to the station; a vestibule that separates the fire station’s living areas and firefighting side; and a personal decontamination corridor for firefighters to use to remove contaminants like ash and hazardous materials from their bodies.

“Firefighters have a higher risk of contracting cancer much higher than the average human,” said Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi. “We have to make sure that when we have to go into a really bad environment that the firefighters have an opportunity to get those carcinogens from the smoke off of their body.”

The new procedures are based on other fire stations’ practices that require firefighters to store gear in separate compartments on the trucks to limit exposure and contamination.

Goodyear is one of a handful of U.S. cities to adopt a clean cab approach to keep these carcinogens away from the firefighters. This means gear will not be allowed in the fire truck cab. Instead, it is stored in special compartments in the new ladder fire trucks. 

“We want to make sure the firefighters get back as quickly as possible and get that smoke off their body,” Luizzi said. “That keeps them healthy and allows them to live a long healthy life.”

The Goodyear City Council approved the funding for these fire stations in December 2019. Lord said a third fire station will open soon but did not cite a date. 

“The investment the city council has always made in public safety is just a major component to our success,” Luizzi said. “It starts with them, and they are ensuring that our residents are safe, and we make it to them as quickly as possible.”

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