COLUMBUS (WDTN) – A total of 40 fire departments are splitting a nearly half a million dollar grant to buy gear, exhaust systems and machines to clean the gear.
The $426,000 comes from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
The Hebron Fire Department in Licking County is getting $4,000 with an additional $800 from the village itself to purchase new gloves and hoods for their fire fighters.
The grant was necessary to make the purchases at this time according to Fire Chief Clifford Mason.
“Sometimes we don’t get the equipment and material that we need to protect ourselves,” said Mason.
Mason began his career as a fire fighter in Hebron back in the early 80’s when protective equipment was not nearly as advanced as it is today. He says, they struggled even then to keep up.
“There was a time when the village couldn’t afford good gloves and we were wearing orange gloves that you would get at the hardware and buy,” said Mason.
The orange gloves are long gone, and the more recent fire-fighting gloves the department has been using are being replaced with grant money by new versions of the same brand.
The new versions are longer and extend past the wrist to protect more of the fire fighter’s skin from carcinogens while fighting a fire.
Mason had his own skin cancer scare recently.
“Caught me completely off-guard because I did not suspect it to be skin cancer at all,” said Mason. “It’s right at the area where the old gloves did not have the wrist protection and the coats that we used to wear did not have the wrist protection.”
His department is also using the grant money they received to purchase new hoods replacing the simple single layer old version with a more advance hood that will help keep the water and carcinogen soaked outer layer off their scalps.
“It’d be just wonderful if every department could afford gloves and hoods with the capabilities and abilities that these gloves offer,” said Mason.
With nearly 1,300 fire departments across the state, that would cost a lot more than $426,000. Instead 40 of those departments will split what is available.
In the meantime, Mason says other departments will have to find ways to pay for protective gear to keep the carcinogens off fire fighters skin so they don’t develop skin, lung or brain cancer.