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Bond committee approves high-tech laundry equipment for firefighter gear

December 6, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City Fire Department leaders are continuing their efforts to reduce fire crews’ risk of cancer.

They got the fire district’s bond committee Tuesday to recommend approving the purchase of five new machines in which to wash firefighters’ turnout gear.

The machines, called extractors, are designed to pull toxins out of the gear crews wear at fire scenes, said Assistant Chief Scott Neal.

Fires often include burning synthetic materials, which dumps cancer-

causing materials onto firefighters, he said.

“It gets into your skin,” Neal said. “Over time, that has been proven to give firefighters cancer. We’re going to stop that cycle.”

The department plans to place an extractor at each of the five fire stations; the units would replace a single extractor at Fire Station No. 2, which is about 15 years old and nearing the end of its lifespan, he said.

Turnout gear should not be washed in a regular washing machine, Neal said, because it breaks down the fabric more than it should and isn’t designed, like an extractor specially, to remove toxins from the clothes.

The purchase of the $73,600.88 units now goes to the fire district’s governing board.

Bond committee members also voted to recommend approval of up to $35,000 in installation costs.

Neal said installation likely will present challenges, as the stations’ laundry spaces were not designed for the additional electrical and plumbing gear needed to run the extractors.

The cost represents a worst-case scenario in both plumbing and electrical, Neal said, but it’s not possible that both would bear out.

“It’s going to be expensive,” he told committee members. “But not as expensive as these added up together.”

The fire board previously approved the purchase of new air-filtering equipment used to cut down the volume of carcinogens that crews are exposed to from running ambulance and fire truck engines.

Department administrators pulled a request for approval of a new data server system after committee members suggested that BCFD policies might require the purchase to go out for bids, rather than be executed as a sole-source deal.

The committee is expected to discuss the issue at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The committee is charged with monitoring how the fire department spends revenue from a $16.7 million bond issue approved by fire district voters last year.

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