TERRELL, Texas — Nucor Building Systems in Terrell has begun building and donating gear driers to Kaufman County fire departments — saving departments thousands of dollars on commercial driers.

Firefighters can potentially be exposed to contaminants and toxins every day, with every shift, and with every call for service. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, firefighters say their gear is being washed even more so, to prevent potential exposure and spread of the virus.

Typically though, and unless the department has a commercial dryer unit which can sometimes cost the department in excess of $7,000, the gear will be rotated and hung to dry — a slow drying process which puts the gear at risk for molding.

Elmo Volunteer Fire Department Chief Randy Brumbelow and Board of Director President Charlie Oldaker say their department, like most, had been looking at purchasing a commercial drying machine.

Brumbelow, who also works as a shipping supervisor at Nucor's Terrell facility on Apache Way, says gears shifted at the plant and, in an effort to keep some of the employees busy and give back to the community, they have begun building gear driers for fire departments and plexiglass intubation boxes for hospitals.

The intubation boxes will allow nurses and doctors to intubate patients, in close proximity to the patient's face, without further risking aerosolized transmission of COVID-19.

So far, driers have been donated to fire departments in Elmo, College Mound, Terrell, Kaufman, and Ables Springs. Two more units are currently being built for Mabank and Crandall.

"I think NUCOR deserves recognition for their community involvement as these units will save thousands of dollars for each local fire department," said Oldaker.

"One by one, we hope to get every department we can in the county," Brumbelow told