Duluth Fire Chief Dennis Edwards remembers a day when grimy gear was considered "a badge of honor" for firefighters.
"But we didn't know that we were generally causing harm to ourselves by exposing ourselves to the same fire over and over," he said, noting that dirty gear has been shown to increase the risk of firefighters contracting cancer.
Monday night the Duluth City Council will be asked to approve the purchase of 50 new sets of turnout gear for firefighters at a cost of $119,900. The fire-resistant heavy-duty suits aren't cheap — $1,229 per jacket and $1,169 per pair of pants for a total cost of $2,398 per set of gear.
The purchase is the first of several anticipated in coming months as the fire department works to replace worn gear, outfit new members and provide an extra set of turnout gear for every firefighter.