The Dallas Fire Department is on the warpath after their gear-cleaning service was suspended indefinitely, effectively increasing the risk of cancer among its firefighters.
Dallas Firefighters Association President Jim McDade expressed his concerns over the matter, which was announced to Dallas Fire-Rescue on Wednesday.
“Effective immediately and until further notice, Gear Cleaning Solutions (GCS) will no longer be picking up personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning,” the memo read. “An updated schedule will be provided as soon as possible. Any member that has PPE in need of cleaning, should seek out the nearest station with an extractor. If it is not possible to utilize the extractor, please contact the Clothing and Supply PPE Captain […] or contact the on duty Shift Safety Chief […] for loaner gear.”
This is a problem for many firefighters, as only a tiny number of stations have extractors. With no ability to clean their gear, the rescuers are at risk of getting cancer.
“It’s the number one killer of firefighters,” Jim McDade said. “It’s inevitable. We know it is coming. We have to do everything that we can to prevent it. And step number one is keeping your gear clean and having the ability to clean your gear. Right now, we don’t have the ability to clean our gear.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, the DFA-Local 58 claimed the cleaners ceased business because the City of Dallas can’t pay their bills on time.
“The number one killer of firefighters is occupational cancer,” the union wrote. “The past few years DFD has made some great strides in addressing this issue, but now DFD has completely dropped the ball due to absolute incompetence and a failure to pay our bills in a timely fashion. Inexcusable.
DFD did not pay the company we contract out with to clean our firefighting gear. They have now cancelled contract so our Firefighters can’t get our gear cleaned as required by law and when we have been exposed to carcinogens.”
According to WFAA, the city has since fired back, claiming that the contract simply expired.
“The City of Dallas and the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department (DFR) remain committed to maintaining strong partnerships with its vendors,” the city said in a statement. “Please note, no contract with Gear Cleaning Solutions was canceled. There was a contract that expired within the last month; however, the extension was already underway and is going through the administrative approval process. As a part of the prior contract, roughly $3 million in funds remain for any services and invoices that need to be processed under the newly extended contract. DFR continually works to keep every member safe while responding to calls for service.
As mentioned above, after the necessary paperwork was received about three weeks ago from the vendor agreeing to extend the contract, the approval is underway through administrative action and all invoices will be paid.”
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