By FireRescue1 Staff
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Fire departments across the state of Minnesota are able to purchase new turnout gear washers and dryers thanks to a state grant.
Echo Press reported that the State Fire Marshal Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety awarded $600,000 in grants to 73 fire departments to purchase new appliances to clean their turnout gear.
Osakis Fire Deparmtent Chief Travis Middendorf said he applied for the grant as soon as he heard it was available.
"We have an old washer, but when money became available, I thought, 'Let's do this,'" he said.
State Fire Marshal Bruce West said the washers and dryers are “necessary” to helping reduce the risk of cancer.
"Minnesota firefighters put their lives on the line to save others. There is no reason they should further risk their lives when they return to their stations and go home to their families," he said. "This equipment is necessary to ensure the safety of Minnesota firefighters."
Leaf Valley Fire Department Chief Scott Korkowski said in the 15 years that he’s been a member of the department, firefighters have never washed their gear.
"It was time, something needed to be done," he said.
Korkowski added that the department also purchased new turnout gear through a donation from the Leaf Valley Sportsmen Club.
Since 2015, 145 fire departments in Minnesota have been able to purchase new washers and dryers through $1.1 million in grant money funded by the Minnesota Fire Safety Account.