AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Fire Department was recently awarded a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to help replace fitness equipment at fire stations.
FEMA awarded AFD the Assistance to Firefighters Grant of $210,000 to be provided over two years for the replacement of station fitness equipment and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) testing.
The grant covers the following expenses:
• Treadmills ($75,000)
• Stairmills ($42,000)
• Rowers ($12,000)
• Barbells and bumper plates ($21,000)
• PFAS blood tests for 100 members ($60,000)
AFD said in a release the replacement of training equipment would extend budget funds and reduce maintenance costs, plus it would improve access to functioning fitness equipment.
AFD said it would assess each station to identify which ones have equipment that would need to be replaced soon.
PFAS testing will help in the identification and reduction of cancer risk, AFD said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, PFAS are “man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. They have been used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.”
The release from AFD said PFAS was a likely contributor to the increased rates of cancer and death from cancer among firefighters across the U.S., per the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Blood testing can guide any additional PFAS risk-reduction efforts AFD may want to take, especially in areas of site mitigation and cancer screening, according to the release.