Tampa Fire upgrades carcinogen-fighting protective hoods

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When every firefighter suits up, there are many layers involved.

One of the first layers, a firefighter’s protective hood, is getting an upgrade at Tampa Fire Rescue.

“These new hoods that we purchased have a material in them that’s supposed to assist in blocking particulates that have been associated with causing cancer,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mark Bogush.

The firehouse is swapping out the cotton hoods they’ve used for 20 years in hopes that the new one will better protect their lungs and skin. 

Firefighter Rafael Pizano explained how it works.

“It has additional material lining on the inside, it’s a different material than from the old one,” he said. “Those toxins from the fire, even after it's extinguished, has chemicals from the plastics and the materials that burn up in the structure. That material sticks to our skin if we’re not properly covered, it can be absorbed from our skin.”

Researchers attribute those chemicals to high cancer rates for firefighters who work in the field.

A recent multi-year study completed by The National Institute for Occupational Safety found that firefighters are nine percent more likely to suffer from cancer than the general U.S. population.

Assistant Chief Bogush hopes these hoods will help. 

“We try to do what we fiscally can do and what we’re allowed to do to try to reduce those hazards to firefighters every day, just so we can have happy, healthy firefighters that can go home to their families every night,” he said.

"It's nice to have this equipment, it makes us feel safer,” Pizano said. “I mean we all have families. We want top-of-the-line equipment to make sure we don't catch anything from the fire."