New Fayetteville fire engines aim to combat cancer risk for firefighters

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Fayetteville firefighters have had to go from fighting blazes to fighting cancer.

The smoke from fires is filled with toxins, according to department captain Adam Ferguson.

“The fires from 50 years ago aren’t quite the same as the fires we’re seeing nowadays with all the synthetic materials and the unknowns,” Ferguson said. “When firefighters go to fires, they’re exposed to a lot of contaminates and a lot of dirty things. And those same things that are on them get transferred into the fire truck.”

Over time, toxins can expose firefighters to a greater risk of developing occupational cancer. Ferguson said that, in his 20 years of service, he’s known at least 20 firefighters who have had cancer.

“It’s always one of those thoughts that’s in the back of your mind,” he said.

The Fayetteville Fire Department gas two new engines with clean-cab designs intended to help keep out carcinogens. They have vinyl seats instead of fabric like older models. There are also filters, and the floors are a solid surface.

Every Fayetteville firefighter has two sets of gear. Every truck has cancer decon buckets so the firefighters can wash off at the scene.

Across the board, the objective is to protect the people who protect the community.

“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, even with the known risk that’s out there,” Ferguson said. “It’s just an amazing opportunity to serve and give back and really enjoy what we do.”

The two engines cost about $577,000 apiece. The city said they should last 20 years.

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