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NKF&R receives grant for firefighter safety

KINGSTON — North Kitsap Fire & Rescue recently received a grant that will help firefighters stay healthy and safe while helping the district save money on utility bills as well.

U.S. Congressional Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) announced Aug. 23 that NKF&R has been awarded a $110,528 grant to allow the district to retrofit its apparatus bays in four of its staffed fire stations with improved vehicle exhaust systems. Currently, apparatus bays have either inefficient or no ventilation systems, which has caused unforeseen increases in heating costs, said fire officials.

The award, from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, will cover 90 percent of the improvement costs. The remaining 10 percent will be paid for by the district.

“This grant is welcome news for the brave firefighters and first responders at North Kitsap Fire & Rescue,” Inslee said. “This funding will improve the safety of their working environment and mitigate dangers to their health posed by vehicle exhaust. These new ventilation systems will also help save North Kitsap Fire & Rescue money on heating costs, which is an important goal at a time when our nation’s energy prices continue to skyrocket.” 

“We’re so pleased to have been granted the funds we need to protect our most valuable resource — our personnel,” said NKF&R Fire Chief Paul Nichol.

Vehicle exhaust from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s fire engines and ambulances contains carcinogens that pose health risks to personnel if not properly ventilated. Three of the district’s four stations have systems that are intended to remove the station’s exhaust-filled air and replace it with fresh air whenever units are dispatched to an emergency. However, NKF&R personnel have reported lingering exhaust after the process. The district’s fourth station has no exhaust removal system. The current systems have also increased heating costs because during cooler weather, they release heat from the apparatus bays. 

The new systems are comprised of large hoses with airtight sleeves that attach to the vehicles’ exhaust pipes. Exhaust is ejected through these hoses to the outdoors. The hoses stay with the vehicles until they clear the apparatus bay doors, then automatically detach.

The new systems will be more effective and improve the health and safety for firefighters, staff and the citizens who visit the stations for tours, meetings and other functions, fire officials said.

The project will also ensure that NKF&R complies with federal and state standards relating to firefighter health and safety.

 

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