Just as firefighting has changed dramatically from the days of horse-drawn pumps carrying pressurized water, so have the fuels that feed structure fires.
“Almost anywhere you go now, there are chemicals in the materials in the fire,” Whiteville Fire Chief David Yergeau said. “Engine exhaust is recognized as a carcinogen. The cancer rate among firefighters is 14 percent higher than the general population, and that’s in part because of the chemicals we’re exposed to on a regular basis.”
Thanks to a federal grant, Whiteville’s fire station on Columbus Street is a little bit safer for the 20 firefighters who spend time there. A Prymovent exhaust system was recently installed, along with a heavy duty, specialized washer-dryer set that removes dangerous substances from turnout gear.