Fire Equipment Stained Purple Following Friday Fire

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JESSUP -- Fire equipment that was used to fight a factory fire in Jessup on Friday is the color purple today.

Firefighters believe the discoloration is from dye that leaked from barrels at Scranton Cooperage.

And they have been told by The Department of Environmental Protection  not to use the stained gear until it can be checked out.

The purple dye was one of the most perplexing parts of that big fire at Scranton Cooperage on Friday. At times it was like a small purple river down Mid Valley Drive in Jessup.

Police tell us it's very concentrated food dye. One drop of it mixed with water can make a gallon of dye. Now, the purple is all over firefighters' gear.

Volunteer firefighters from Jessup visited Scranton Cooperage again Monday. Not to check for re-kindles after the massive fire there Friday, but to check for insurance information in hopes of fixing an unusual type of damage to hose company property.

White stripes on one of the company engines is now purple. It is from remnants of dye that leaked from the cooperage that cleans and recycles plastic barrels. The same dye is now permanently on the bottoms of about 30 pairs of turnout gear at Jessup Hose Company.

Repeated scrubbing didn't take the stains out.

"We only have so much gear for members, we don't have two sets of gear or anything for members due to the cost so we have a lot of members out of service until we hear back what we can do with our gear," said Lt. Joe Kozuch.

Firefighters said they have been told by the DEP not to wear the gear until they can test the dye for any dangerous chemicals, leaving Jessup Hose Company with only five sets of unstained gear.

"It hurts, it hurts a volunteer company to have our top responders, most active guys, pretty much all of them were at that call and now they're going to be out of service too if they have blue on their gear. It's going to take a toll, it's going to hurt," Kozuch added.

If the tests come back as contaminated, it could cost the Jessup Hose Company more than $100,000 to replace all of the turnout gear.

Eureka Hose Company in Olyphant was second to respond to the fire. Officials there already know they're down about eight hoses, that were once orange.

Replacing the hoses may cost the department $5,000.

Firefighters told Newswatch 16 that the fire on Friday was an accident sparked when an employee hit a barrel with a forklift.


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  • Warlock

    I’m fine with purple but let’s make sure it’s safe for everyone, especially the firefighters exposed to it.

    • Jonathan Walker

      Because of it’s level of concentration. Chlorine is used to clean your pool and is even in drinking water, but in very small amounts. In a more concentrated form, chlorine can be deadly from its vapor alone let alone the other damage it can do.

      • Jonathan Walker

        Meh. I meant to use chlorine as an analog to this food dye, but forgot to mention that bit. So yeah, it may be a simple food dye that’s harmless when diluted in water, but I’m concerned about what it may do in this fully concentrated state.

  • Jonathan Walker

    I hope the DEP is also checking to see what damage this leakage caused the local environment as well. It’s bad enough we have firefighters who can’t do the brave job they do, but what if it contaminates ground water?

  • Garben

    Spray it with simple green and quit your bitching no one cares if your pants are purple heck change the station name to Barney Company

    • Joe

      Contact with any chemical may impact the heat shielding/vapor barrier/fire resistance of the gear. I don’t know if you think you’re funny or if you are really that ignorant, but you should think twice before making stupid comments towards people who actually contribute something meaningful to society.

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