Investment Into Health of and “More Birthdays” for First Responders and their Families

QUEENS, NY – The sole FDNY Decontamination Specialization Unit in the city — located in Corona, Queens — cleaned more than 47,000 pieces of contaminated gear in 2019, a number that continues to increase significantly each year. To expand the Unit’s decontamination capacity and address other concerns with its aging machinery, Acting Borough President Sharon Lee today announced a $1 million allocation to fully fund the purchase and installation of state-of-the-art, high-grade washing and drying systems, as well as any necessary structural work to accommodate the new equipment.

“These necessary upgrades are an earnest step toward the ultimate goal of equipping all 51 Queens firehouses each with their own washing and drying systems in the near future,” said Borough President LEE. “Time is a luxury, however, and with the necessary capital now fully secured, we hope work can first begin at least on the FDNY Decontamination Specialization Unit located here in Queens. In the Borough of Families, this is a deliberate investment into more birthdays for our first responders and their families, who are often directly or inadvertently exposed to various, dangerous toxins in the line of duty.”

“Our Department is grateful for Borough President Lee’s outstanding support of the health and safety of our members,” said FDNY Commissioner DANIEL A. NIGRO. “Cancer has taken the lives of far too many members of the FDNY family, and we know this investment will make a substantial impact in the lives of those who bravely serve our city.”

“The efforts of the Borough President’s Office will go a long way in removing carcinogens from our firefighting gear and reducing exposure to our members,” said Uniformed Fire Officers Association President JAKE LEMONDA. “Cancers are prevalent throughout the fire service and we are very thankful for this meaningful effort to protect our members.”

“The safety and security of New York City firefighters remains the paramount concern of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. We appreciate the action of Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, who shares this goal in with both words and action,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York President GERARD FITZGERALD. “We are thankful for the generous contribution for the purposes of expanded bunker gear cleaning — especially in times where cleanliness is so critical.”

Located at 104-32 43 Avenue in Corona since 2012, the FDNY Decontamination Specialization Unit and its staff is responsible for cleaning and decontaminating gear used by firefighters and emergency medical service technicians. In 2019, 47,473 pieces of gear were decontaminated at the site, up from 41,864 in 2018 and 29,928 in 2017.

Replacing the current inventory of decade-old washers with state-of-the-art models will increase washing capacity by 30 pounds of equipment, while new piping and other related infrastructure will eliminate the buildup of debris in the system.

The existing driers currently do not operate at full efficiency, while exhaust from the machines are not properly ventilated, leading to potential overheating inside the facility and gear taking significantly longer to dry than necessary. Replacing the driers with new, high-end models and the installing new exhaust ductwork will result in a faster drying process, as well as more manageable conditions inside the facility.

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