NYC Fire Wire
Scientists at the University of Notre Dame will begin an independent study of turnout gear worn by firefighters after initial samples tested positive for fluorine.
Graham Peaslee, a professor of experimental nuclear physics at the University of Notre Dame, and his lab tested fabric swatches taken from unused personal protective gear for the presence of perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs).
“The results were phenomenal — off the scale in parts per million of fluorine in all but one of the samples,” Peaslee said. “Everything was just loaded with fluorine.” Following the initial tests, Peaslee is leading a study of new and used turnout and personal protective gear issued throughout the 2000s, including jackets, pants and undershirts — all of which are either new or have been in service for more than a decade.
Various forms of PFASs have been linked to prostate, kidney and testicular cancers, as well as thyroid disease and low birthweight. The chemicals are commonly associated with stain-resistant products and the manufacture of nonstick cookware. In 2017, Peaslee was one of several researchers who uncovered the presence of PFASs in fast-food wrappers.
The chemicals are also a component of aqueous film-forming foams. These foam fire suppressants have been linked to incidents of contaminated drinking water. In Michigan, where a number of communities have traced water contamination to the use of the foam, some fire officials are working to limit its use or to use alternative, PFAS-free formulas when possible. The United States Air Force began phasing out PFAS-based foam for an environmentally safer alternative in 2016, and finished replacing its stock in 2017.
Seventeen years out from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center area have been diagnosed with cancer. More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses.
“We’re nervous,” said Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai.
Robert Reeg of Stony Point, New York, knows the feeling. The retired Fire Department of New York firefighter was seriously injured in the South Tower collapse. In the last 17 years, he's seen fellow first responders who survived the attacks fall victim to the illnesses caused by the contaminants that were spewed all over.
"You lose track, there's so many of them," the 66-year-old said. As for his own health risks, given the growing incidents of cancer among 9/11 first responders, Reeg said he doesn't dwell on it. "It's at the back of your mind. But you can't let it control you."
The average age of a 9/11 first responder is now about 55. While many people face a cancer diagnosis as they age, the rate of some cancers among first responders is up to 30 percent higher than in the general population, Crane said.
The Town of Hempstead renamed a Point Lookout street to commemorate a local FDNY firefighter who died of a 9/11-related illness. The street sign reading “Ginny Ann Avenue,” named for Virginia Ann Culkin-Spinelli, a longtime Point Lookout resident who participated in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, was unveiled Saturday morning in an emotional ceremony. “While this is just a simple street sign, this sign will be a lasting tribute to the legacy of Ginny Ann,” said Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney (R-Wantagh). “Heroes like Ginny Ann should never be forgotten".
Councilwoman Sweeney was joined by Culkin-Spinelli's friends & family at the corner of Lynbrook Avenue, now Ginny Ann Avenue & Bayside Drive. Members of the community, the FDNY & local fire departments also were present.
"Mom has been honored in Colorado Springs, Albany & the town park", said Spinelli's daughter, Shannon Llewellyn. "This is more of an honor. It hits closer to home"
Culkin-Spinelli joined the FDNY in 1982 & was part of the 1st class of female firefighters to join the department, Sweeney said. She served Engine 226 in Brooklyn, later transfered to Engine 329 in Rockaway.
She was a member of the FDNY for 20 years, retiring to St Augustine, Florida with her husband Vincent Spinelli in 2002.
Retired FDNY Battalion Chief Robert Miuccio, a Ground Zero hero famed for walking through burning buildings with a cigar in his mouth instead of an air mask, died Thursday of 9/11-related cancer, his family said. He was 76.
"My dad never stopped thinking about the guys in the department," his son, retired firefighter Robert Miuccio Jr., told the Daily News. "When we were at the hospital, he was talking in his sleep. 'Come on boys! We gotta put the fire out.'"
Miuccio, who served with the department for 39 years, died after a two-year battle with lung cancer, officials and family said.
When planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Staten Island firefighter — whose brother Richard, 55, worked on the 86th floor of 2 World Trade Center — grabbed his gear and boarded a ferry headed downtown.
Miuccio's brother perished in the terror attack. He set aside his grief for the next 3½ months as he led firefighters' efforts to recover the remains of the dead.
June 5, 2016-
2 weeks ago, I had the week of my life. It started with the Answer the Call 2016 Soiree, the NYC Firefighter & Police Widows & Children's fund benefit ( https://www.facebook.com/AnswerTheCallNYC/?fref=ts ). We were asked to attend and gladly accepted. In addition to helping such an awesome foundation, I had the opportunity to meet my childhood hero Mark Messier. It was only Tuesday and I thought to myself, this is it, the highest point possible of the week, even year. I had no idea what was in store for me later on
That Saturday started out as a typical day tour in Midtown, not a second to enjoy a cup of coffee to start the tour before the tones went off and computer spit out our assignment. At around 11, I got a phone call that a visitor would be stopping by, but, as usual, we were finishing up another run. When we made it back to the firehouse, Tim Hogan, his wife and 2 children were there waiting. Tim, now Lieutenant, was a firefighter in Brooklyn 2 years ago when we 1st met (via facebook). NYC Fire Wire was contacted about a firefighter whose family was going through a difficult time. In early 2013, Tim's son Owen was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia. Aplastic Anemia is a disorder in which the body stops producing blood cells. It can result in fatigue, easy bruising, poor clotting and impair the body's ability to fight infection. Owen's aplastic anemia is life threatening. We (NYC Fire Wire) were prepared to do what ever it took. While Owen stole my heart, I was also concerned for Tim and his wife Kathleen. As a parent, I could only imagine what they were going through. We used Fire Wire, whether it was for the little things like prayers, facebook comments for words of encouragement, or anything. I was finally in contact with Tim and able to offer whatever was in our power. We were successful in everything we did. That Saturday, I was not only suprised by their visit, but also to learn that this June 2016 marks 6 months since Owen was under the microscope. 6 months since he had any treatment, needles, anything!
The Little things: Tim said that Owen was a brave warrior through the whole thing. He battled Cancer like a 3am fire with people trapped; he went head first and didn't quit until the fire was out. But when he was scared, he found his support in a video. He downloaded an app called "Whopping Fire Trucks" and there was a video of Engine 54 going on a run. As they were pulling out, they noticed someone recording them, so the nozzle & back-up man gave each other thumbs up and a high five. At the moment, it was just an innocent quirky thing, but Owen saw it and immediately loved it. When ever he was scared, Tim played the video for Owen, and they would high five each other and give each other a thumbs up, and Owen was ready to go into battle with his parents backing him up. (There is soooo many video's of 54/4 responding, I'm having trouble finding the video on youtube to show you.)
During Owen's visit to the firehouse, I made sure he had a great time because I just had to see that smile on his face. We played in the rig and Owen and his brother Ethan got to hit Tim and I with the extinguisher. We even got to do the thumbs up, high five that he saw in the video.