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City blamed for firefighter trainees' asbestos exposure

As public servants, firefighters put themselves in harm's way in order to protect the people of South Carolina. Firefighters likely expect to encounter potentially dangerous substances while on the job. However, few may think that they would be victims of asbestos exposure during their training.

An out-of-state city might have to shell out for fines associated with asbestos at its area fire academy training center. According to the area Air Pollution Control District -- the APCD -- the training academy is quite old and contains a number of materials contaminated with asbestos. This includes things like floor tile and mastic, a type of adhesive used in construction. The APCD claims that firefighters in training between 2001 and July 2018 were exposed to asbestos at the facility.

The fire chief does not necessarily deny that the some of his trainees were exposed to asbestos. He does dispute the date of 2001 as cited by the APCD, since he says they never fully identified when the asbestos debris was deposited. He also stated that the facility is regularly inspected. Anytime that asbestos contamination is found, it is apparently cleaned up in a timely manner.

It is unclear if that is truly the case or not. Legal documents allege that the city tried to downplay the health risks and danger associated with asbestos. It also did not act quickly when it came to protecting both its trainees as well as its veteran firefighters from exposure. According to the APCD, the presence of asbestos in the building can be confirmed to as far back as May 2000.

South Carolina workers expect their employers to provide safe working spaces. When they fail to do so, workers can end up being exposed to asbestos exposure and not realizing it until they are diagnosed with a fatal disease. In such cases, it may be important for victims to act quickly in order to recover just and necessary compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

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