The Carpinteria Summerland Fire Protection District has been awarded $71,316 through a federal Assistance to Firefighters grant that will fund the purchase and installation of vehicle exhaust source-capture systems, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.
The new systems will be installed for the fire stations in Carpinteria and Summerland. They will eliminate 100 percent of the contaminants emitted by starting, running and backing the fire apparatus in the fire station engine bays and will be a critical component to the department’s Firefighter Health and Safety Program.
“This federal funding will have a lasting positive impact on our district, and I will continue doing all I can in Congress to support our brave firefighters and ensure they have the resources they need,” Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, said in a statement.
It has been established that exposure to diesel exhaust drastically increases the risks of cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary and respiratory disease and lung cancer. According to the International Association of Firefighters, more than 50 percent of firefighters named on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Wall of Honor died of cancer.
The goal of the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District is to reduce risks contributing to this cancer rate and other work-associated illnesses.
The funding will be split between the two stations, with slightly more funding dedicated to the Carpinteria station that houses four rigs. The Summerland station has two, according to Battalion Chief Michael Gallagher.
The department has taken several other steps aimed at decreasing health risks, though Battalion Chief Gallagher described the federal funding as the “big money toward that effort.”
When reached by phone Wednesday, Battalion Chief Gallagher said the department applied for the grant funding about a year ago and staff was thrilled about the announcement.
By removing the exhaust from the fire station engine bays, the equipment will prevent exhaust from contaminating the firefighters, their clothing, their tools and equipment and the stations themselves.The equipment will also eliminate any cross-contamination when firefighters make contact with community members during calls and other interactions.
The grant will save local tax payers money and also benefit the community at large who are invited to tour the fire stations throughout the year, Battalion Chief Gallagher said, adding that he hopes to have the systems functioning by the end of October.
The total program cost is estimated at $74,000, with the grant covering 95 percent of the expenditures.