Syracuse, NY – Recent discoveries of asbestos in firehouses throughout the country has led to concern over the safety of firefighters and paramedics nationwide.
Just days ago, a firehouse in North Bend, WA had to be evacuated with shut down after tests of the air quality showed that there were dangerous amounts of asbestos fibers in the building. Until the substance is contained and removed, the 15 firefighters and 10 paramedics that work at the firehouse will be operating out of auxiliary stations.
In October of last year, dangerous levels of asbestos were also found in three firehouses in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
Before it was banned from most usage in the late 1970s, asbestos was widely used in construction. Studies indicate that about 80% of buildings built before 1978 contain some amount of asbestos. This is especially true for firehouses, which benefited from the material’s heat-insulation abilities.
Asbestos was a component used in concrete, coverings for electrical fixtures or piping, and floors and ceiling tiles. While they are intact, these items do not pose a health threat. However, over the years they have started to deteriorate, causing asbestos fibers to become airborne and presenting a danger to anyone in the building.
Although asbestos presents a hazardous risk to the health of those who come in contact with it, the cost of proper removal is so high that most firehouses, which are publicly funded, cannot afford to pay the expense.