New Ipswich fire chief says exhaust system will decrease cancer risk

  • The New Ipswich Fire Department on Turnpike Road photographed on Monday, April 10, 2017. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/10/2017 11:57:45 PM

Officials have moved forward on a plan approved by New Ipswich voters to install a new exhaust system in the fire department that will remove toxic diesel fumes and make the air safer to breath.

The equipment will protect the health of firefighters and cost $22,887, according to officials.

The accepted proposal is from Air Vacuum Corporation.

Multiple possible types of systems were considered, including one that runs on a pulley and uses pipes to redirect fumes, and would have cost about $65,000. New Ipswich selectmen consulted an engineer and came up with the newer plan.

“That’s how we ended up with this one as the best one and at the best price for the department,” Fire Chief Meredith Lund said.

Lund said exhaust from fire engines are carcinogenic. The second floor of the fire department has not been regularly used since 2009 when the labor department said those fumes made it too dangerous to be up there.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention concluded a multi-year study in 2016 revealing that the cancer risk for firefighters is greater than for the general population.

“This study provides further evidence that fire fighters are at increased risk of certain types of cancer as a result of occupational exposure,” the center said in its factsheet. “Raised awareness and exposure prevention efforts are cost effective means to reduce occupational cancer risk.”

Types of cancers firefighters are more prone to tend to be oral, respiratory, digestive and urinary, or in the bladder and prostate.

“Every piece we can do to protect firefighters from cancer, we want to do,” Lund said.

In addition to installing the exhaust remover, the fire department will be moving its small kitchen upstairs so the current kitchen can be repurposed as a washing station and storage space. Previously, equipment had to be washed in the same area as dishes are washed, and gear was hung in the garage, exposed to toxic air.

“Whenever we pull the trucks in or out of that station, for approximately two hours the exhaust stays in the building,” according to Lund.

She hopes to have the new equipment installed within the next three weeks.

Air Vacuum Corporation, or AIRVAC, specializes in exhaust removal. Lund told the board of selectmen the department is ready to accommodate the installation.

Article 12 on the town warrant carried by a vote of 480 to 349 and provides up to $26,000 for the project. The $22,887 final pricetag breaks down to $13,596 for the exhaust removal equipment, $1,520 for a filter pack, $115 for a filter gauge, $999 for a certified control panel, $361 for activation package, $96 for prefilters, and $6,200 for delivery and installation.

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