WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - You would think axes or power tools would be a favored tool in firefighting. But for the Waterloo Fire Department, that's not the case. They put a lot of value into their washing machine.
With their jobs involving putting themselves at risk daily, Battalion Chief Bill Beck said that also includes the risk of cancer.
"Studies after studies show that we die of cancer more than the general public does," Beck said, "before we would take our dirty gear to a commercial laundromat, and we don't w ant to do that or put the public at risk in that way."
Working in hazardous conditions, almost daily, it is important they have the right appliances to lower that risk. Their washing machine, or better known as the extractor, takes in 60 gallons of water and washes five sets of gear at a time.
Using their soap designed for fire gear, the extractor helps get rid of the bloodborne pathogens left on their uniforms.
Beck says cancer prevention is so important to the fire department, and having appliances like the extractor not only protect themselves, but the public as well.
"None of us want to risk our families, we want to be safe when we get home," Beck said, "and that's just one more way we as a department want to keep the community safe."
The fire department also invested in a gear dryer, which they built themselves.
Beck told "KWWL" the Waterloo Community Foundation has really helped with the department's cancer prevention efforts. Their support not only helped them invest in these appliances, but it has progressed their department to be cleaner and safer.
If you are looking for ways to help the Waterloo Fire Department, click here.