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Asbestos in Firefighter Clothing and Equipment

WHEN PEOPLE HEAR THE WORD “ASBESTOS,” THEY OFTEN THINK OF SHIPYARDS OR INSULATION ON BOILERS AND STEAM PIPES. HOWEVER, ASBESTOS WAS UNFORTUNATELY USED IN HUNDREDS OF PRODUCTS AND WAYS THAT MANY PEOPLE FIND SURPRISING. ONE SUCH LESS-WELL-KNOWN APPLICATION WAS IN THE EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING HISTORICALLY WORN BY FIREFIGHTERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS FROM ANY SOURCE IS A KNOWN CAUSE OF MESOTHELIOMA, A RARE FORM OF CANCER, AS WELL OTHER DISEASES AND CANCERS.

Levy Konigsberg LLP, a New York City-based law firm that has specialized in representing victims of mesothelioma for more than twenty-five years, currently represents the family of a mesothelioma victim who was exposed to asbestos that was imbedded in the clothing and equipment he was issued and wore as a firefighter. For over thirty years, he served as a firefighter and officer in New Jersey.

Unfortunately, the clothing and equipment that was issued to him for protection was partially comprised of woven asbestos fibers and cloth that steadily and consistently deteriorated and shed its dangerous fibers. Each day, as he put on, took off, and wore and worked in his protective clothing and equipment, he unknowingly was exposing himself to the asbestos fibers that were shaken loose from his ordinary movements. And each day he unknowingly breathed in these asbestos fibers which ultimately contributed to his developing the mesothelioma that caused his death. As neither the fire department nor the manufacturers or distributors of his “protective clothing” and equipment provided him or any of his fellow firefighters with any warnings about the dangers of the asbestos they were being exposed to, they had no opportunity to protect themselves from being exposed to the deadly carcinogen. Worse still, the asbestos fibers and dusts would be on their civilian clothes and brought home to their families and children at the end of each day where they, too, were potentially exposed to the asbestos.

If you or a loved one have developed a disease related to asbestos exposure and have either worked as a firefighter or lived with someone who was a firefighter, it is important to consider fire protective clothing and equipment as a potential culprit. If you suspect that an asbestos-related disease may have been caused by exposure to asbestos from this type of clothing or equipment, consider the following questions:

  • Why was asbestos used in firefighting clothing and equipment? As it is heat-resistant, the asbestos was used to protect the firefighter from the heat of a blaze and also to extend the service life of the clothing and equipment.
  • What kinds of clothing and equipment worn by firefighters could have contained asbestos? Asbestos was woven or imbedded into coats, hoods, fire suits, jackets, liners, boots, gloves, among other products. Often the asbestos was imbedded into the fabrics and thermal linings of the clothing.
  • How would someone typically be exposed to asbestos in firefighter clothing and equipment? Most often, the asbestos was woven or imbedded into the linings and cloth material of the clothing or equipment. As such, each time a firefighter used the clothing or equipment, or even just moved around, his or her movements would rub against the asbestos cloth and fabrics, shaking asbestos fibers and dusts off. A great deal of fibers were also likely released into the air when a firefighter would pull his or her arm, leg, or hand out of the clothing.
  • Who made asbestos-containing firefighting clothing and equipment? The companies who manufactured and distributed asbestos-containing fire-fighting clothing and equipment include Globe, Mine Safety Appliance, Midwest Glove, and others. Moreover, large corporations, such as 3M, supplied the asbestos and asbestos-containing materials that were ultimately used.

As with other workers who labored in the presence of high heat, firefighters may have been heavily exposed to asbestos – not only at the locations of the fires they fought, but also from the clothing and equipment they wore. As a result, not only can the firefighters develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, but their wives and children were also put at risk of being exposed to the asbestos dust that was on their spouses’ and parents’ clothing when they came home from work.

Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that occurs most commonly in the pleura or peritoneum that line the lungs and abdominal cavities, respectively. The disease occurs after a “latency period” of many decades, which explains why many people exposed to asbestos are diagnosed with mesothelioma many decades after the exposure itself occurs.

ATTENTION: Mesothelioma has no known cure and often causes severe pain, suffering, and other types of damage, such as loss of consortium, and loss of income. Additionally, due to the exceedingly high cost of mesothelioma treatments, many families exhaust savings and accumulate financial debt in order to pay for the medical expenses of their family member.

Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.

Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.

IMPORTANT: If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer as early as possible to determine if you have a mesothelioma case and to:

  • Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
  • Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
    • Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
    • File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
  • Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.

Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

NOTE: While our offices are located in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Georgia, many of our mesothelioma lawyers are licensed to practice law in a number of U.S. states and have the capability and extensive experience of representing mesothelioma clients throughout the United States. You are encouraged to contact us with any questions.

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Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

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