ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – New Mexico fire departments are looking to help protect their firefighters from getting cancer.
The Bernalillo County Fire Department is now the first in the state to have fire engines built to help with that mission.
BCFD said the number of firefighter deaths from cancer is increasing nationwide, in part, because of the exposure to carcinogens often left on their gear.
“We’re always looking at new initiatives and ways to keep our firefighters safe,” Lt. George Asi said.
So, when BCFD firefighters wear their gear is changing.
BCFD is showing all of its stations the ins and outs of the department’s two new $660,000 engines with compartments retrofitted outside the cab to hold bunker gear and tanks.
Now, when an emergency call comes in, firefighters will store their potentially tainted bunker gear in the compartments to avoid wearing it as long as possible and to keep it out of the cab.
“When we arrive on scene, especially these fire scenes, you’re going to see that your firefighters are going to be bunkering up on scene,” Lujan explained.
“I’m happy that our department is looking out for us. I think it’s a good thing,” BCFD Engineer John Denson said.
The department wants to clarify the new procedure won’t change response time, saying it takes about a minute and a half to bunker up whether it’s at the firehouse or at a fire.
“It’s not that we’re not prepared when we arrive on scene, this is just going to be the new application- the new norm for us when we arrive on scene,” Lujan said.
The department plans to retrofit the rest of its fleet for about $5,000 per engine by July.
It hopes to roll out the two new engines in mid-February.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue confirmed it has one clean cab engine on order, as does the city of Espanola.