- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for Mass. Firefighting Academy Awarded Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant
Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer
STOW — State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA) Director David C. Evans announced today that the MFA has been awarded $400,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant funding to purchase a mobile extraction unit to clean firefighters’ gear.
“Our Administration has made firefighters’ occupational health a priority,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Like the grants for new turnout gear and washer-extractors that we have provided to fire departments across the Commonwealth, this funding will help make a dangerous job safer and protect the men and women who bravely step forward to do it.”
“We know that one of the most important things we can do for the long-term health and safety of firefighters is to wash their turnout gear. This will allow students and instructors to take this important safety step after live fire training,” said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey.
“Firefighters in Massachusetts have earned our unyielding support for the sacrifices they make each day to keep our Massachusetts families safe, and those training at the Commonwealth’s Firefighting Academy deserve the best resources to help them train for the future,” said U. S. Senator Edward J. Markey. “This important federal funding will equip the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy with a new mobile protective gear washing unit to ensure our future firefighters have access to safe protective gear and can train for every emergency scenario.”
“Our brave firefighters are out on the front lines each day working to keep our families safe, and it’s up to us to make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. “These federal dollars will equip the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy with a mobile extraction unit that will serve firefighters across Massachusetts by removing the dangerous materials they come in contact with while training to keep us safe.”
“Unfortunately, we now know that the toxic substances firefighters come in contact with every day increase their risk of being diagnosed with occupational cancer,” said Secretary Thomas Turco of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. “Properly cleaning turnout gear is one major step we can take to fight the high rate of occupational cancer in the fire service, and to show our deep appreciation for these dedicated public safety professionals.”
“The MFA has three campuses across the state and provides training at local fire departments using mobile live fire training props,” said MFA Director David C. Evans. “This mobile extractor will make sure students and instructors at every site can wash their gear before putting it back into their personal vehicles – often the same vehicles they put their families in.”
Mobile Extraction Unit (MEU) Overview
A national standard set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on the care and cleaning of structural firefighting gear delineates specific types of machines that should be used to effectively remove cancer-causing chemicals after each fire, preventing repeated exposures from occurring every time a firefighter puts on their gear. Currently, the MFA’s capacity to clean the turnout gear worn by staff and students across its three campuses is challenged by the high-demand for live fire training across the state. The Mobile Extraction Unit (MEU) will dramatically increase this capacity, travelling to all three campuses to wash and dry 40 full sets of gear per day. The unit consists of a box truck chassis with two extractors, two drying cabinets, a tumble dryer, a 700-gallon fresh water tank, and a 700-gallon wastewater tank. The MEU will also allow for the sampling of water before and after it is used to clean turnout gear. This will provide previously unknown information about the types of toxins created by burning straw, pallets, and gas in an academy setting, benefitting fire academies across the country that engage in similar training practices.
Over the course of the past year, the Baker-Polito Administration has allocated $840,000 in grant funding for municipal fire departments to purchase washer-extractor units that can effectively clean their structural firefighting gear after exposure to smoke and toxic chemicals. The Administration also delivered $500,000 in grants for departments to purchase new gloves and hoods, further helping to reduce firefighters’ exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the head and hand areas, which are high-risk areas for dangerous chemicals to enter the body. Earlier this month, Governor Baker signed a bond bill that authorizes $10 million to establish a permanent fire training facility in southeastern Massachusetts and $25 million for firefighter safety grants.
Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant
FEMA offers the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations. State firefighting academies have been eligible for this grant program for only seven years. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy has been successful each year and received a total of $2.8 million in funding for vital training resources. The MFA has been able to purchase several training props through the AFG program: the forcible entry prop, the maze trailer, the flashover training prop, search and rescue training props on the Bridgewater and Springfield campuses, and now the mobile extraction unit.