Toney VFD adds decontamination program, hopes to better protect firefighters

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TONEY, Ala. – The Toney Volunteer Fire Department recently purchased material to deploy a Ground Decon Program. The end result of decontamination protocol should result in an 85 percent toxin cleanse of a firefighter’s PPE.

“Once they leave the hot zone, they stay in full PPE. This kit will be deployed, and they will actually start with the head and work their way down,” said Heath Jones, the president of the Toney Volunteer Fire Department as he described how the decontamination kits work.

Inside each bucket, which costs roughly $400, you will find cleaner, hoses, and connectors to the firetruck. The soapy foam is sprayed on-site to avoid bringing contamination back home or to the firehouse.

The system isn’t unique to Huntsville region, however the Huntsville Fire does use the kits.

Jones, like many firefighters is a volunteer in the county and a paid firefighter in the city. He sits on a cancer committee aimed at curbing risk for firefighters.

“We spent many months and many hours collecting data and coming up with these kits for our personnel there,” said Jones.

Permeability increases with temperature. Skin absorption increases by 400% for every 5°increase in skin temperature. It’s that very reason that cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters.

For Jones, having kits at volunteer departments outside of Huntsville, only improves the health of the entire firefighter ecosystem county-wide.

The cost for the kits isn’t cheap. Jones also acknowledges running a volunteer fire department is a full-time job in itself as he is tasked to manage a thin budget in a growing community. Still, their is no cost too high when it comes to protecting his fellow firefighters.

“Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with some type of cancer. They have a 14 percent higher rate of dying of cancer in the fire service,” said Jones.V

Volunteer fire departments often survive on grants and donations. As North Alabama grows, volunteer fire departments are responding to more calls with less firefighters. If interested, many departments will gladly accept a donation of any kind. To help the Toney VFD click here.

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