The Mansfield Fire Department has been awarded a grant from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment.

The $15,000 grant was received from the Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant program, which the BCW uses to partner with Ohio fire departments.

The grant will provide funding for 100 particulate blocking hoods from the grant. The hoods are designed to keep potentially carcinogenic particulates and other harmful contaminants off of firefighter’s jaws, faces, and necks; areas identified as highly absorptive and more permeable than other areas of skin, and are likely not getting enough protection from hazardous particles with the current knit hood technology that is currently available.

Funds will further permit the department to purchase 100 washable gloves that meet the requirements of the latest standards of the National Fire Protection Association.

The grant requires a local financial match from the fire department of $3,000.

“According to the NFPA, firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses. The enhanced protective clothing that this grant funds will help protect our firefighters,” Steve Strickling, Mansfield Fire Department Chief, said.

The grant will also work in conjunction with the department’s current policy of protecting firefighters by washing contaminated gear in a large “extractor,” an industrial washing machine. This extractor allows all clothing to be cleaned before the next shift. Also, firefighters will be carrying wet wipes on their trucks, to remove as much soot as possible form their faces, necks, and hands before they leave a fire scene.

“Cancer is a leading threat to firefighter health, as recognized by Ohio’s new firefighter-cancer presumption law,” said Mansfield Firefighter Shawn Yerian, who wrote the grant for the hoods and gloves. “We are grateful for the BWC grant that has allowed us to purchase protective clothing that blocks carcinogens, minimizing health impacts.”

As of February 28th, the Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program has awarded 199 grants totaling $2 million with nearly 250 additional grants pending. The program is entering its second year with a funding level of $2 million.

The Mansfield Fire Department operates from five fire stations. The department is made up of 92 firefighters, responding to approximately 11,000 calls a year.

Source: City of Mansfield

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