El Dorado Firefighters use YMCA to detox after fires

By Scott Evans
KWCH – May 4, 2017

Firefighters across the country are beginning to pay a little more attention to what they do after a fire.

While fighting fires, they’re covered from head to toe with protective gear, but in the past decade, we’ve learned that gear may not be enough, and firefighters in El Dorado are taking a proactive approach.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 continue to impact thousands of families and has led to changes for first responders.

For days and weeks following the attack, heroes, covered in soot and ash, dug through the rubble.

As of June 30, 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s World Trade Center Health Program enrolled more than 5,400 people who have been diagnosed with cancers linked to the 9/11 attacks. 4,692 are first responders, emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers, and volunteers who helped in the aftermath.

“Months and years later, after the incident, these guys are in there sweating off all these chemicals that they got on the rubble pile,” said Lt. Coby Spear with the El Dorado Fire Department.

He heard about the sweating and to him, it just made sense. For decades they had a breathing apparatus, but now, he says that’s not enough.

“Now we’re thinking about our skin as absorbing all this stuff, it’s not just our lungs, it’s getting into our skin,” said Spear.

And from there, causing cancer.

Enter the steam room. While some firefighters have been using a steam room for years, Spear approached the El Dorado YMCA a few months ago and partnered with them to allow their crews to come and sweat off everything they’re exposed to.

Now, they go in after every fire.

“I’m wiping my skin with white towels to see what it’s doing, and I’m pouring black stuff off my skin just a couple days later,” said Spear.

He has pictures of towels blacked when he wipes his skin after a session in the steam room. He says it’s just evidence the steam is working and hopefully keeping him and others cancer free.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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