Orlando firefighter training to change after crews exposed to asbestos

Source: KFTV

The city of Orlando is looking to change the way it does live fire training after firefighters said their health was put in danger from being exposed to asbestos.

A dozen firefighters were exposed to the hazardous substance inside an abandoned apartment complex, but Channel 9 learned more may have been put in harm’s way.

About a dozen were put in close contact with floor tiles that contained asbestos.

“We stopped training at the site, and from stopping training, we also will launch an investigation internally in the city to look at best practices,” said Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams.

On Monday, the department’s management sat down with Orlando’s mayor and the firefighters union to discuss the abandoned apartment complex and the hazardous work firefighters were doing unknowingly.

To prepare for live fire training, floor tiled with cancer-causing asbestos were being removed without proper equipment.

“I think the exposure was probably minimal and not risky,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Dyer said he expects changes to the training process.

“I think what we’re probably going to do is say, look, if a building is built before 1980, we’ll just all assume that it has asbestos until somebody tells you that it doesn’t,” said Dyer.

Union officials believe 12 to 15 firefighters were in close contact with asbestos materials.

The union president was happy with talks in the morning meeting about the problem.

“It dealt with doing annual physicals, doing air quality samples of the training site, in addition testing all the bunker gear that was used out there to see if there is any exposure on the gear itself,” Ron Glass said.

The week, the union said it will bring in an occupational health doctor to meet directly with the firefighters to help them understand the health risks and to answer any questions they have.

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