PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- There are new, big changes to the way Phoenix firefighters are protecting themselves against cancer while they’re still at the scene, and they’re already seeing encouraging results.
Phoenix firefighter Capt. Nicole Minnick says she's learned a lot. “We didn’t know what we know now,” she said.
More and more firefighters are passing away from work-related cancer, including Phoenix firefighters Rick Tells and Brian Beck this year. They were only in their 30s and 40s. “We just have a sense of responsibility to change the culture for the safety of us and our families,” said Minnick.
[WATCH: The new procedures]
So Phoenix Fire changed its entire protocol for gross decontamination immediately at a scene. They start with a low pressure wash down of each other, followed by using EMS gloves to load hoses that were exposed to carcinogens in the fire.
Scrubbing down all their gear and helmets with Dawn dish soap before spraying it all down too is the newest change. Their firefighters also used to wear the same hoods for several fires over several months, but now, they’re required to throw them into a dirty bucket to get washed after every single fire.
Minnick said the extra effort is worth every life they can save within the department. “It’s a huge difference,” she said. “That initial rinse off takes off about 85% of the carcinogens that we’re exposed to."
For the sake of their safety, the firefighters said as science changes, so will they.