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Smartphone app aims to protect firefighters

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Aug. 19, 2015 at 8:52 p.m.


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LAYTON — When Fire Chief Kevin Ward was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he says he was lucky enough to get workplace compensation to help foot the medical bills. Now, he wants to better ensure that his employees have the same protection.

"I'm concerned about my guys and what their exposure is going to be," Ward said. "As those structures are burning, we're exposed to all those different toxic gases."

Ward believes his cancer, which is now in remission, came in part from exposure to diesel-exhaust fumes from fire trucks. Today, firefighters in Layton started training on a smartphone app called Exposure Tracker, designed by the Northern California-based TrackTrain company.

"Firefighters have up to two and a half times the rate of cancer as the average U.S. worker," TrackTrain CEO Chris Memmott said. "We figure if we can educate firefighters on what they're getting exposed to, it will help them make the right decisions to take care of them."

The smartphone app allows firefighters to record data on each scene they respond to. Memmott says his company is working with physicians to create a system that would alert the firefighters when they reach a dangerous exposure threshold.

While some states have created similar systems for their firefighters, Memmott says Layton is the first Fire Department in Utah to sign on with Exposure Tracker. The company already works with nine other departments and is in talks with about 60 more.

"Literally for less than 10 cents a day, we're covering each of our firefighters on an individual basis," Ward said.

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