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Around the country, fire stations are lacking much-needed modernization

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

When you think of the sacrifices our firefighters make, think about the service of soldiers in foreign lands and listen to their lives, you have to be careful that whatever you do, don't cast a shadow on what these great people do.” ~Jim Brown, Hall of Fame running back for the Cleveland Browns.

All across the United States, firefighters are acting as heroes, role models, and if nothing else key members of our communities dedicated to keeping the lives of others safe from harm. With over a million local fighters around the country (1,056,200 to be exact), those focused on defending us from danger make up a sizable portion of our population.

However, many stations around the country lack the tools and updates to their facilities needed to keep their fire defense mechanisms as effective as possible. According to a report from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), more than 21,000 fire stations across the United States are at least 40 years old, which equates to deteriorating conditions for so many of these firemen.

Our nation’s firefighters rely on their training, expertise, and physical condition to help them protect our communities, but 59% of fire stations lack an exhaust emission control system.

The Harvard Gazette released a report in 2017 detailing the cancerous dangers that come with an improperly controlled exhaust emission system, particularly from diesel exhaust.

Diesel exhaust from the fire trucks is a carcinogen that remains in these stations, often close to living quarters, making it incredibly dangerous as the firefighters’ clothes are coated in emissions, their couches, and equipment also end up subjected to the life-endangering substance. Right down to the air they breathe, firemen are being subjected to cancerous emissions if their station doesn’t have the proper exhaust system.

“It’s not just the folks who are active-duty, it’s the ones who retire,” Boston Deputy Fire Chief Jim Hoar, who also heads the department’s Safety, Health, and Wellness Division said. “‘Here’s your gold watch after 40 years on the line.’ You’re 65 years old and you don’t make it to 66 or 67.”

While Chief Hoar pointed out that many firefighters accept these dangers as a part of the job, it’s causing some to leave the industry as a whole.

According to the News-Herald, Chester Township Fire Chief John Wargelin faced an 85% turnover rate over the past five years, as active firefighters saw a 2% decrease in their total number of active personnel across the United States.

Including improvements to facilities, there have been measures taken to keep members on staff for longer terms, including increases in pay for part-time employees and flexible scheduling, allowing firemen to pick their own hours.

With so many fire stations in need of proper, modern ventilation systems, Tec Inc. offers our services to ensure our first responders to the public are in the right conditions to perform at their absolute peak when it comes time to extinguish a dangerous threat. Our professionals can provide fire stations with an initial assessment of facilities systems and provide a recommendation for updates that could improve the health of your community’s first responders.

Our design team at Tec Inc. helped improve more than a dozen fire stations throughout Ohio over our 37 years as a firm. Working on projects with the Perry Village, Russell Township and Twinsburg Fire Departments, Tec’s experience gave our engineers a hunch that many more stations around the country might be in need of similar repairs.

“As a local small business, it is a priority to give back to those in need when we can. This is one small way we can contribute to those who save lives and keep our communities safe,” Tim Pool, Executive Vice President, Engineering.

A professional engineering assessment of HVAC and electrical building systems can save lives, lengthen employment and service of firefighters, and help your community save money by creating a more energy-efficient and healthy work environment.

If you would like Tec, Inc. to visit your station for a preliminary assessment, please contact us.

Faced with issues to staffing and facilities, Northeastern Ohio fire departments were relieved to hear they’d be receiving $2.4 million as a part of FEMA’s Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant announced by U.S. Representative Tim Ryan added a layer of funding to help improve struggling stations.

However, there was an additional $1.4 million awarded to Trumbull County, as their fire department prepares a new communications center, which allowed for the station to make upgrades to keep their community safe by upgrading their facility’s communication capabilities.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grants put $345 million to use for firefighters around the United States. Tec Inc Engineering & Design is interested in how we can help local fire stations earn grants like the one received by Trumbull County.

Interested in how we can best serve those who serve us, Tec Inc. Engineering & Design is also willing to help identify grants that may be available to help fire stations improve the environmental health of their employees.

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