SLOCOMB, Ala. (WTVY) — Slocomb Fire and Rescue has been doing more than just battling fires these last couple days. They've had their hands full, cleaning. Cleaning up not just around the department, but cleaning up their turnout gear.
"Trying to figure out how much soap you should put in, that type of things was definitely a problem", said Chief Adrian Thomas.
Saturday, the new washer and dryer were installed. The washer can hold one set of turnout gear, which includes gloves, hoods, jackets, pants and boots. The dryer can hold around 5 sets of turnout gear. The washer is preset for about 45 minutes, with the dryer taking several hours. The gear is hung on hangers as hot air blows through the machine.
"We don't have to take it to Dothan or to the washateria we can, we actually got something here that we can use", said Justin Miles, a firefighter
Before, the volunteers were forced to take their gear off premise to clean, taking it home or to a laundry mat. But a major problem with that is one, they’re not meant to clean heavy duty gear like that and two they may not do a good enough job of properly cleaning the turnout gear.
With it not being properly cleaned out that can lead to other issues besides just fighting fire. If the equipment isn’t thoroughly cleaned, carcinogens from houses that have burned can get into the fabric, cause the firefighter to inhale noxious gases.
"that's a big plus, of having this washer extractor here, is, to wash our turnout gear effectively and do what it needs to do to get the carcinogens out", said miles.
According to the centers for disease control, firefighters have a higher rate of digestive, oral and respiratory cancers than the general public. But a thorough cleaning can make sure, firefights are fighting fires and not fighting cancer.