ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Two new washer and dryers systems are helping Orange County firefighters remove dangerous toxins and chemicals from their gear.

For years, the county only had two sets of industrial-strength washers and dryers, which were nearly 30 years old, and didn't do the job of gear extractors.

"Because all these chemicals nowadays are carcinogens, a lot of instances of cancer in the fire service," said Orange Volunteer Fire Company First Assistant Chief Bert Roby.

Now, thanks to $34,000 from the Board of Supervisors, each fire station will get its own extractor and dryer system.

“The smoke contains all those particles - everything about it is carcinogen - and these help to remove that," Roby said. "There are a number of things we do to protect our people, but a gear extractor is one of the big things that we've really done a pretty poor job up until now."

Crews recently installed two new sets of gear washers and dryers at the Volunteer Fire Company and the Rhoadesville Station. Four more machines will be installed at each of the four other stations in the county over the next 4 years.

"Now we're not going to have to carry dirty gear in vehicles to get it clean," said Orange County Fire & EMS Chief Nathan Mort. "With our volunteer firefighters, a lot of them carry their gear with them in their personal cars. We don't want to take this home to our families either."

"That's the most important thing: to provide every protection we can for all of our members, all over the county, career and volunteer," Roby said.

Orange County is also working to install an automatic detergent system for the extractors.

Two sets of washers and dryers will be installed in 2020, and two more will be introduced in 2021.