Clearing the air at Shelton’s fire stations

The air inside Shelton’s four fire stations is going to get cleaner, thanks to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA announced last Friday that Shelton Fire Department will receive a $163,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to install source capture diesel exhaust systems at all four stations: Echo Hose Hook and Ladder, Huntington Fire, Pine Rock Park and White Hills Fire stations.

Shelton Fire Chief Francis Jones said the systems will remove carcinogens from the air inside each station, caused by diesel exhaust from the fire apparatus.

“When our trucks start up to go out on a call, that diesel fills up the station,” Jones said.

A health alert from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explains that diesel exhaust contains unburned hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Diesel Particulate Matter or DPM, a known human carcinogen. Short-term exposure can cause symptoms of dizziness and headache, while long-term exposure can increase the risk of cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary and respiratory disease and lung cancer, according to OSHA.

The capture systems will pull the diesel exhaust out of the stations.

“Most new firehouses have this and a lot of existing have been renovated to add these exhaust capture devices to reduce the risk,” Jones said. “All Shelton’s stations were built in the 1960’s and mid-1970’s. They didn’t know the carcinogen risk back then. Really. that risk has come to light in the last 5 to 6 years.”

The grant requires a 10% match from the city, according to Jones.

“For $16,000, it’s well worth it,” Jones explained.

Jones noted that firefighters are already at a higher risk for cancer due to smoke and chemical exposure on calls. Like protective gear, the exhaust capture systems will play an important role in lowering those risks.

“This is all part of our prevention efforts,” he said.

According to FEMA, the primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Jones expects the installation process to start in four to six months, following City approvals and sending the project out the bid.

It’s not the only renovation project in the works for the Shelton Fire Department. Jones says plans are moving forward to to fix the floor at Echo Hose Hook and Ladder’s Coram Avenue station. Safety evaluations have identified a depression forming in the concrete where the apparatus is kept.

“We have an engineer’s proposal for a repair of the floor and that is being reviewed,” Jones said. “We expect to be going out to bid on that project too. It’s moving forward.”

Additional information about FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters grant program(s) may be found at