TALLMADGE — A $10,000-plus grant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation will help the Tallmadge Fire Department purchase new hoods and gloves to keep its firefighters safe from potential cancer-causing materials, according to Chief Michael G. Passarelli.
"There’s a high rate of incidence of about seven different types of cancer among firefighters," Passarelli said.
The fire chief himself is a two-time cancer survivor, "so this is near and dear to my heart," he said. "I’m trying to do everything in our power to prevent anybody from having to fight that battle."
Through the grant, the Tallmadge Fire Department will receive 128 particulate filtering hoods, which are designed to keep potential carcinogens and contaminants off firefighters' skin.
When you’re very warm, Passarelli said, your pores dilate. For firefighters, this scenario allows hazardous particles to enter their body, he said. The department’s current hoods are flame-proof only, according to the chief. The new hoods cost $89 each and Passarelli said he wants two for each of the department’s 60-plus firefighters.
The fire department will also receive 25 pairs of an improved style of gloves.
When they return from a blaze, firefighters exchange their contaminated gear — like the hoods and gloves they wore — for clean gear. Their clothing is then washed in an industrial-type washing machine and dried overnight. Firefighters also bring a special variety of wet wipes on their runs which they use to wipe away soot before leaving a scene.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.