Tulsa firefighters are getting new gear that could help them live longer.
The new uniforms limit a firefighter’s exposure to toxins that could potentially soak into their normal bunker gear.
Firefighters say researchers have linked cancer among firefighters to the carcinogens found in their gear, and they believe these new suits are just one way they can combat those deadly statistics.
They put their lives on the line every day, responding to emergencies wearing nearly 70 pounds of gear, but a delivery the Tulsa Fire Department received Tuesday should help lift some of that weight.
“It’s great gear and it does a great job at protecting us from the elements when we go into any structure fire,” said firefighter Brandon Potter, “but it is heavy when we go out and do any other activities, such as medicals, car wrecks, wildfires.”
Not only is it heavy, the bunker gear also soaks in whatever smoke or pesticides are in the building.
“Any time we put that on, we go out and we sweat,” said Potter. “Our pores open up and that soaks into our skin.”
They’ll still need to wear that gear for structural fires, but now they have a lighter weight option when responding to other calls.
“It gives them flash protection from embers in the wildland or from a vehicle extrication,” said Cliff Gallarneae from protective gear manufacturer LION. “It’s lighter weight so they can get into tighter corners.”
The new gear is also less expensive.
“A regular set of bunker gear costs $2,800 and these cost about $700,” said Captain Stan May.
It might also help extend the lives of Tulsa firefighters.
“Our goal is to make sure they make it to retirement and move on, healthy. That is not going to happen in every situation, but there is things like this we can do,” said May. “It’s better for our budget, it’s better for our firefighters, it’s better for their long-term health.