Firefighting, Health & Safety

Indiana Firefighter Wants to Change Air Pack Policy

A Pike Township (IN) firefighter has made it his mission to help change policy within fire departments across the state. As recommended by a national organization, he wants his fellow firefighters to use their air packs even after the fire has been put out.

Lieutenant Troy Clements said he was inspired, sadly, by his co-workers who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“I got the call from the doctor saying, ‘You do have cancer. We have to aggressively decide what we’re going to do with this,'” said David Murray, a Battalion Chief with the Pike Township Fire Department.

Murray is a veteran firefighter who learned he had cancer just over a year ago. It is a diagnosis that he said is not rare within his department.

“Our cancer rate here is extremely high, in my opinion, and I feel, it’s job related,” he said.

“Not only is it because of the chemical smoke and carcinogens but also because when we’re tearing out walls, there’s a lot of fiberglass in the air, and there are particulates that get into our lungs,” said Clements.

Clements has been traveling across the state offering free classes to fellow firefighters on the dangers of taking their air tanks off too early. He also pushed for a change in policy at his own department a year ago that has caught on.

Six months ago, the Wayne Township Fire Department changed its policy, requiring firefighters to keep their air packs on longer. The department also invested in larger tanks of oxygen.

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