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Eliminate Deadly Toxins exposed in Fires

Eliminate Deadly Toxins exposed in Fires

Staber Hose Washer Detail Photos

Staber Hose Washer Detail Photos

Remove deadly Toxins with the Staber Fire Washer

Remove deadly Toxins with the Staber Fire Washer

Every firefighting team knows the work does not end when the embers are extinguished. To maintain the highest level of efficiency and fire preparedness, your core fire equipment must be properly maintained. The Staber Hose Washer is a device that completely eliminates the backbreaking and resource-depleting chore of manually scrubbing down hose.

Our burning homes are firefighters’ work sites. The toxic chemicals that we have in our homes not only affect our health and the environment, but when they burn, they can also affect the long term health of firefighters.

What are some of the chemicals we’re exposed to? The list below is not intended to be comprehensive, but highlights some of the most toxic substances in consumer products.


In June, 2004, formaldehyde was reclassified from a probable human carcinogen  (IARC 2A) to a known human carcinogen (IARC 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is released from such products as particleboard and some insulation materials and is used as an 
ingredient in products such as RV holding tank deodorizers. It is also produced as a combustion gas when many products — including HFC-based aerosol cans — are burnt. Formaldehyde is linked to nasal and throat cancer and leukemia.

Methylene chloride

Methylene chloride is sold and used widely as a household paint stripper, both as the generic product and in common hardware products such as Behr, The Stripper. IARC classifies it as a 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), associated with lung, liver, breast and pancreatic cancer. It can also cause sterility in males at high concentrations. In the presence of fire, methylene chloride produces the toxic gas hydrogen chloride as well as phosgene gas, the same gas that was used as a chemical weapon during World War 1.


Paradichlorobenzene, which IARC classifies as 2B, a possible human carcinogen, is the ingredient used in urinal blocks. But it is also used (as is naphthalene, another 2B carcinogen) in mothballs, which thousands of people use in their closets and wardrobes. A study completed in New York  in 2004 found a much higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among women who had been using mothballs over an extended period of time. Paradichlorobenzene produces hydrochloric acid and poisonous phosgene gas  when it is burned.


Several carcinogenic pesticides, including tetrachlorvinphos in pet flea collars, chlorphenoxy herbicides and diuron in weed killers, dicofol in insecticides and captan in fungicides are routinely used in households and often in parks and golf courses. In 2004, the Ontario College of Family Physicians completed a comprehensive review of studies on pesticide links with cancer. Their review confirmed the existing links between pesticide use and leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and also showed associations with brain, prostate, kidney and pancreatic cancer. The study also linked birth defects, as well as higher rates of kidney cancer and leukemia among the children of those exposed occupationally  to pesticides. There are numerous alternatives to toxic pesticides and many communities across Canada have convinced their municipal governments to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Toxic TVs and computers

Virtually all B.C. homes have at least one television, and computer use is rapidly reaching that same level, with many homes having more than one computer. With the exception of some equipment purchased very recently, all of that electronic equipment is housed in plastic compartments made with fire retardants containing the newest persistent toxin – polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs have also been used extensively in foam mattresses and couch cushions and while they have arguably saved lives from fires, they have created a toxic legacy.

PBDEs are both reproductive and developmental toxins that can reduce male sperm counts, cause developmental neurological damage in newborns and affect thyroid function even at extremely low doses. PBDE levels in North American women’s breast milk is 5-10X the levels of women in Europe and those levels are doubling every five years. The good news is that they have begun to fall in Sweden where PBDEs have been banned for many years, showing that regulatory action can be effective.

While initially retarding flame spread, PBDEs, under fire conditions, actually produce a denser, more toxic smoke that non-treated plastic, according to the Bolton Fire Laboratory in the UK.  When burned, PBDEs produce highly toxic and carcinogenic  polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs) and polybrominated dibenzo furans (PBDFs), posing a higher cancer risk for firefighters.

Making a change

We can do something to reduce the risks. Just being aware of what we are exposed to is often the first step to action. Then there are practical steps we can take ourselves to choose safer products.  Finally, there are steps in our communities to press for bylaws to curb pesticide use and for the federal government to move on better product labelling and regulations to curb the use of persistent toxins such as PBDEs.

Reducing firefighters’ risk

The sorry fact of life is that firefighters get some cancers at higher rates because of their exposures to carcinogens and other toxins on their jobs. Recently, firefighters in B.C. were successful in winning new government regulations on occupational cancer. The regulations state that when firefighters develop certain types of cancer, including brain, kidney and bladder cancer, the cancers will be presumed to have been caused by occupational exposure and will give firefighters easier access to workers’ compensation. The range of cancers covered by the new regulations is still not as wide, however, as it is in other provinces, such as Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Firefighters risk their lives and their long-term health to save us and our homes from fire.

We owe it to ourselves and to firefighters to eliminate as many toxic chemicals as we can from our homes and communities.  
Hose washing is necessary for maximum life and a clean, professional appearance. More importantly, however, the Staber Washer effectively removes mud, gravel, glass, and other potential toxins and carcinogens.

No other method is available to thoroughly deep clean your hose.

Questions? Call us at 1-614-836-5995.

Questions? Call us at 1-614-836-5995.

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