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Spring Fire Department using new technology to prevent cancer in firefighters

Engine 71 is the first in the nation to pilot real-time air quality monitoring for firefighters inside the cab.

SPRING, Texas — When firefighters answer the call, fires are not the only danger they face. Inside the cab can be just as dangerous with every breath they take.

“If you don’t take care of your people, they can’t take care of the citizens," said Matthew Corso, Senior Captain with Spring Fire Department.

He knows the risk. Corso has been a firefighter since 1999. In 2016 a life scan the Spring Fire Department offered caught cancer.

It was tough news to share with his wife and kids.

“They knew I was sick, my wife did everything she could to keep their life normal," said Corso.

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He made a full recovery, but it's stories like his that prompted the department to install new equipment.

“So we first just wanted to monitor the baseline, what happens in a fire truck after a structure fire," said Scott Hacker, with Toxic Suppression.

Hacker says the Spring Fire Department is the first in the nation to pilot the technology that monitors real-time air quality inside the cab.

"What we’ve found was the VOCs spike, it maxes out the VOC sensor and then the levels within the cab itself stay elevated above the EPA unhealthy levels for over 2 hours," said Hacker.

That’s where the red box comes in, it’s a purifier. Reducing volatile organic compounds by 65%, according to their study.

For Assistant Chief Robert Logan it’s personal.

"My greatest mentor Phil Hudgens fought cancer 3 times as a firefighter," said Logan. "I want to do whatever we can to make sure every one of our firefighters that ride this truck have a good long healthy career and can enjoy their retirement."

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This husband and father is forever thankful.

“The department, the tax base, the ESD board, they clearly care about us – I’m living proof of that," said Corso.

Toxic Suppression says it picked the Spring Fire Department to pilot the program because of its commitment to firefighter safety. They’re hoping the technology will spread to departments nationwide.

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