Cobb County Public Safety Foundation provides decontamination device for the fire department

A firefighter's ladder truck

by Larry Felton Johnson

With the help of donations from the public, the Cobb County Public Safety Foundation donated a “Storm Stick” to the Cobb County Fire Department. The Storm Stick is a system developed to lower cancer risk among firefighters.

Firefighters are exposed to a variety of carcinogens while fighting fires. The longer a firefighter stays on the job, the higher their cancer risk.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health wrote on the CDC website:

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“Firefighters can be exposed to hundreds of different chemicals in the form of gases, vapors, and particulates. Some of these chemical substances are known or suspected to cause cancer.

“Some of these hazardous substances are byproducts of combustion or burning, such as benzene and formaldehyde.

“Others come from the materials burning or in the fire debris, such as asbestos from older structures.”

The Storm Stick is a detergent-based system that decontaminates firefighters after a fire, and lowers the risk of cancer.

“We don’t want these firefighters facing these risks,” said Lance LoRusso of the Cobb County Public Safety Foundation, quoted in a county news release about the Storm Stick. “We do not want them suffering years and years or losing their lives ten years after they retire from a career of protecting us.”

“Keep in mind it can also be used to decontaminate citizens who either got close trying to fight the fire or people who have been rescued,” LoRusso said in a county-produced video (watch below). “So our goal is to have five and then a backup, and we provided the first one.”

“We’re very proud to start that off to help decon all of our firefighters anytime they come out of an IDLH (immediate danger to life/health) environment to get all of the nasty products of combustion off of them,” LoRusso said.

In an instructional video from the company that manufactures the Storm Stick (watch below) company founder Jason Miller said that detergent-based washing can remove up to 85 percent of the most dangerous toxins from firefighters after a fire, but the process of doing it onsite has been complex and inconsistent.

He said that the Storm Stick simplifies the decontamination process.

The Storm Stick system can be installed on a fire truck and hooked up to existing water discharge fixture on the truck. A detergent activator is slid into the system, and the firefighter or other person being decontaminated is then hosed down with the Storm Stick device.

To learn more and donate, visit www.ccpsf.org.

Two videos highlighting the Storm Stick device

Video from Cobb County government

Video from the Storm Stick manufacturer

About the Cobb County Public Safety Foundation

The Cobb County Public Safety Foundation describes its mission as follows:

“To provide relief, equipment, support, and training to advance the mission of the Cobb County police officers, firefighters, deputy sheriffs, E911 officers, animal control, and emergency medical technicians who serve Cobb County. 

“By serving first responders we aim to help secure our community with the greatest safety and emergency resources available to all citizens of Cobb County.”

It is a 501(c)(3) organization, and you can make a tax deductible donation by following this link.

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