In what is still a very fluid situation with many moving parts, Mark Schieldrop, executive assistant to Mayor Allan Fung, said that the cost to Cranston from the chemical fire at Prosys Finishing Technologies that sent 14 firefighters to the hospital last Monday could be upwards of $150,000.
“It’s amazing how expensive this stuff is,” Shieldrop said. “The breathing packs cost several thousand dollars. And there’s coats, pants, underclothing, boots, gloves. Anything that would have come in contact with the chemicals there [can’t be used], which includes EMTs riding in the rescue vehicles with the effected fire fighters, their uniforms and equipment.”
The nature of the fire is what made it so destructive, as Fire Chief William McKenna said that there’s a “long list” [more than 70] of tier-2 chemicals, which denotes that they are hazardous.
Prosys is a chemical manufacturing company specializing in cleaning products and metal finishing products. The company would not provide any comment on the status of the building or its employees when reached Tuesday by the Herald.
Chief McKenna said that the investigation is still ongoing and replacing the gear will be a priority at some point, but for now the main concern is the health of the firefighters, as some are still out of work because of the health effects of the chemicals.
“The most important thing we’re concerned about is our guys right now,” he said of the firefighters, some of whom are still feeling the residual effects of battling the chemical fire that night.
Schieldrop said that the city isn’t “standing in the way” of the firefighters getting treatment. He added that they are working to ensure that the health of every person who responded to the scene of the fire is a priority.
“The city is continuing to monitor and make sure that everybody who responded is taken care of,” he said. “We’re also working on equipment replacement and a follow-up on the building and the safety of the building inside.”
This includes inspections from both the fire department and city building officials at the Elmwood Avenue building moving forward.
To cover the high costs of the gear and equipment destroyed by the chemicals, which Shieldrop said were reported to have melted in some cases, the city is initially looking at federal grants and their own money as well.
Chief McKenna said that despite the large amount of equipment compromised by the chemicals in the fire, the department “had enough materials on hand to help us get our personnel up and functioning again,” again adding that the bigger concern is the health of the fire fighters moving forward.