Firefighters face new dangers as pot industry flourishes

Posted at 4:00 AM, Apr 19, 2017

DENVER-- As 4/20 approaches in Colorado, Denver7 has learned firefighters are dealing with new hazards impacting their safety and yours. Dangers fueled by the fast growing marijuana industry and grows.

In Denver, ditched refrigerators are becoming a regular find in parking lots.

The empty shells are from hash oil producers who are looking for creative ways to cool their concoctions, leaving an unknown danger for firefighters.

"We kept finding these, and naturally, the assumption was there some sort of explosive device in there. Turned out it was just from the fumes from a process from hours before," said Mark Rudolph, a technician with the Denver Fire Department.

Another concern facing fire crews: locked doors at pot production facilities that are putting employees and firefighters in harm’s way.

"That's one of our constant watch-outs during an inspection -- making sure that all the doors that need to open in an emergency can."

For firefighters, not all dangers are so visible. Some pot producers are constantly rewiring and remodeling homes, putting firefighters in vulnerable situations.             

"We end up with maze-like construction, some substandard construction," said Rudolph.                  

Because these issues aren't going away, expect to see even more cooperation between different agencies across the state, as they share information to find solutions to these dangerous problems.

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