A firefighters job is already risky as it is. They are tasked with putting out dangerous fires and working together in organized team to get the tasks done. If a building or structure is on fire, it is those firefighters who are coming in first. The heat and flames can do enough damage. There are falling walls and ceilings and that is all the danger without even accounting for the dreaded asbestos.
Firefighters’ Hidden Killer
A whole lot of buildings were constructed between the decades of the 1930s and 1970s. Many of these were created out of asbestos laced toxic materials. When these buildings begin to burn down, these asbestos products can get into the air and affect both career and volunteer firefighters at risk of asbestos exposure.
They aren’t only being exposed to it through action, but by the places they work at in the fire station. Many fire stations were built prior to the decades that outlawed its use in buildings. They’re being constantly exposed.
There is a disease that you might be familiar with called mesothelioma, and can be dangerous and often fatal to those affected with it. If you’re dealing with it or a loved one is because of their work, there is help out there. MesotheliomaFromNavy.com is one such group that can assist in teaching you about the disease and other groups and areas it affects.
Protection on the Job
You’d think that the protection made would protect firefighters from the potential spread of asbestos infected air and fibers. What exactly was the case from the earlier 20th century to the mid 1970s was outfits that included helmets, pants, overcoats, and boots were all made with asbestos. Some protective specialized clothing still has asbestos in it to this day, though in much smaller quantities.
The majority of the time they’re surrounded by it is through major fires in burning buildings that were created with asbestos in the foundation and walls. While subjected to extreme heat, asbestos will break down into the air around them. Without a mask on, the risk for exposure greatly increases.
Other parts of the building that include asbestos are found in the roofs, floors, pipe installation and other various foundational parts.
Aside from a catastrophic fire, firefighters are exposed to asbestos in other unknown ways. Some of these include activities after a small fire has been put out. They’ll need to open up some walls and ceilings to check and see if a fire has been completely put out.
Contaminated clothing can cause problems if not handled correctly. Along with this risk, there is the possibility of buildings scheduled for demolition that are burned and will have firefighters in the vicinity for training and intentional use.
If they aren’t careful a building could be leaking a ton of asbestos into the air. Overall, regulations have been trying to help firefighters to fight this danger on top of everything else they face.
Josh Cooke is a retired firefighter who raises awareness on important matters for the firefighting community, as well as being an avid fundraiser.