Winston-Salem Fire Department debuts ‘Clean Cab’ truck with hopes to keep firefighters from being exposed to carcinogens

North Carolina

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The City of Winston-Salem is trying to keep the men and women who fight fires safe.

Fire department leaders announced the rollout of the “Clean Cab” truck at a public safety meeting Wednesday. 

“The idea is to move the carcinogens that may still be on our air packs to an area where we aren’t breathing it in,” said Chase Swaim, a captain with the Winston-Salem Fire Department.

After a fire, the crew rides in the clean cab, any gear covered with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, is stowed in a safe area in the back of the truck.

This keeps them from breathing in dangerous chemicals on the way back to the station.

“What’s in those toxins is hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, anything that can be absorbed in that gear is a hazardous chemical,” Swaim said.

According to a national survey, from 2002 until 2019, cancer caused 66 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths.

“It doesn’t take too long here to meet or hear about someone who’s had adverse effects and reactions to smoke and whatnot,” said Christopher Marso, a firefighter with the WSFD.

It took some practice to get used to putting on certain gear outside the truck.

Crews can put on their air packs in as little as 15 seconds.

The front of the truck is also made of material that’s easier to clean.

The crew using the clean cab truck says they’ll do anything to keep themselves and their fellow firefighters healthy.

“It’s comforting to know they’re taking an initiative to make a difference,” Swaim said. “This clean cab concept is still new, it’s early, it’s still evolving.”

Leaders at the fire department say they’re budgeting to buy two more trucks in the future.

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