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World-leading technology to safeguard firefighters from dangerous toxins: Cooke

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The Hon. Steph Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience (NSW), Media Release, 7 November 2022

Firefighters will be better protected from exposure to dangerous carcinogens than ever before with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) rolling out world-leading decontamination technology and new fire station designs.

The Clean Firefighter, Clean Appliance and Clean Buildings Plan includes:

  • $30 million of new structural protective clothing for all firefighters;
  • New design guidelines for fire stations with living, transition and working zones, and retrofitted with designated wash areas to control the spread of contaminants;
  • A new laundry app to streamline the decontamination process for firefighters’ clothing; and
  • Ongoing research into exposure and decontamination education, guidelines and procedures.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said FRNSW is leading the world in providing state-of-the-art equipment, facilities and practices to safeguard firefighters from harmful toxins.

“There was once a time firefighters considered a uniform covered in ash and soot to be a ‘badge of honour’ but now we have a greater understanding of the risks of carcinogens, it’s important we take steps to safeguard our frontline responders,” Ms Cooke said.

“This new program is the first of its kind of any fire service in the world and is the culmination of four years of hard work.

“It’s essential we have these new procedures and resources in place to protect not just our personnel but their families as well.”

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said the Clean Firefighter, Clean Appliance and Clean Buildings Plan helps to understand the risks confronting frontline staff and take appropriate action.

“Any firefighter will tell you they have known for a long time that they are exposed to a nasty concoction of carcinogenic substances, but as an organisation, we wanted to know what more we could do to reduce those exposure risks,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“The international research into cancer risks to firefighters continues but in the meantime we have a blueprint to proceed with to protect our people.

“Together we are transforming the hygiene of our fire stations, uniforms, trucks and importantly how we operate as well. This is resulting in a practical and positive influence on our people’s safety.”

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