New cleaning equipment will help better protect firefighters in Hamburg from long term health risks that may come from the job.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, Hamburg Township officials approved the purchase of 2 gear extractors for the township fire department. Hamburg Township Fire Chief Nick Miller says these heavy duty, industrial washing machines are known for promoting longer, healthier lives with firefighters. Research has shown that because of smoke and toxin exposure, cancer rates are higher in firefighters, and that contaminated turn-out gear is a significant factor in this.

Miller says of the extractors, “They’re designed to thoroughly wash the firefighter’s gear. One of the concerns for their health is that they are exposed to carcinogens and are having an increase in cancer as they progress through their career. We’re trying to prevent that. We’re making some changes in the department, but also introducing these products to remove the harmful ones and keep them healthy for a long time.”

Miller said that the 2 washers they currently use don’t meet industry standards. He said firefighting gear needs to be washed at certain temperatures with a certain amount of g-force to fully remove the harmful products from them. Both fire stations in Hamburg will receive one of the extractors, which fully comply with current National Fire Protection Association standards. The township considered 3 bids, but only the one from a company out of Westland, whose bid fell in the middle, met all NFPA requirements. At Miller’s recommendation, the Board of Trustees approved the purchase for just under $19,500. All but $3,000 of that was available in the budget, but after internal discussions, it was determined that the budget can handle the extra cost with an amendment. Miller said purchasing both at once saves the township $1,500-$2,000 as opposed to buying one this year, and the second next year.

Miller said, “It is all about taking care of our firefighters; that’s for sure. And we want them to have a healthy life with their families after they’re done serving their community.” (MK)