Whether it’s responding to a grisly accident, working to save the lives of others, being in a life-threatening situation or dealing with constant alarms, IAFF members face challenges that are virtually unknown to the public. The fact is, one in five fire fighters experiences post-traumatic stress at some point in their career.
“As I travel across our two great countries, I hear first-hand about the struggles some of us face with post-traumatic stress,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “It’s a condition that affects our members at double the rate of the general population. But there have been few programs to address it.”
As more members are experiencing post-traumatic stress, the IAFF has undertaken an intensive effort to remove the stigma associated with behavioral health issues and provide resources for treatment and recovery.
Fire Fighters and Cancer Risks
Fire fighters are exposed every day to harsh toxins and chemicals that increase their risk for contracting some form of cancer. This emotional video, which features Boston, Massachusetts fire fighters, is a sobering reminder of the dangers of working in the fire service.
Occupational carcinogens include diesel exhaust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos and various combustion byproducts found in smoke. Exposures can occur through inhalation of smoke or diesel exhaust, and skin exposure can occur through contaminated personal protective equipment and turnout gear.
Remember these tips to help reduce your overall risk of exposure:
• Shower after returning from a fire
• Use SCBA during overhaul activities
• Perform gross field decontamination of PPE to remove as much soot and particulates as possible
• Clean your PPE (i.e., gloves, hood and helmet) after a fire
• Store PPE in dedicated storage areas and not in living quarters
SAN DIEGO FIRE ENGULFS FIREFIGHTER This fire occurred in South San Diego off Palm Ave. 04-05-2012. Looks like things are under control when the fuel tank lets loose and a firefigher finds himself surrounded by fire. This is a great video to show us how important PPEs are.
FIREFIGHTER FATALITIES AND INJURIES:THE ROLE OF HEAT STRESS AND PPE
More firefighters die in the line of duty from heart attacks than from any other cause. And slips, trips and falls cause a large number of firefighter injuries. While the origins of heart attack and slip, trip and fall may appear unrelated, previous research suggests that heat stress may be a common causal factor in both heart attacks and slips, trips and falls. Research further suggests that one common, critical factor can potentially mitigate both of these injuries and fatalities: modified personal protective equipment (PPE).
CAUTION URGED WITH COMPOSITE FLOORS
IAFC - December 4, 2006 -The Safety, Health and Survival Section recently became aware of a potential hazard to firefighter safety. They asked the IAFC to share the following notification with all members.
There have been several cases of firefighters falling through floors made of composite structural components and an even greater number of near-miss situations. This type of construction is being investigated as a contributing factor in a line-of-duty death.
There is a proliferation of engineered floor systems in residential occupancies across the United States. Many newer residential occupancies incorporate lightweight, engineered wood or composite structural components, including trusses, wooden I-beams and lightweight flooring systems. In most cases, these systems are structurally sound and designed to support the appropriate loads under normal conditions; however, they are likely to fail very quickly under fire conditions.
These components and systems are most often found in situations where applicable codes do not require any rated fire resistance between floor levels. They have much less inherent fire resistance than conventional wood joist floor systems and conventional wood decking. Remember – many codes do not require any fire resistance in residential floors!
In the several cases of firefighters falling through floors, those floors had been exposed to fire from below for relatively short periods. Sometimes the weakened area is relatively small and the damage is concentrated to the area immediately above the seat of the fire. Firefighters should pay special attention when entering above a basement fire, where the floor could have been weakened to the point that the weight of a firefighter could cause a localized failure, dropping the firefighter into a burning basement. This can occur with no indication of imminent failure from above.
Extreme caution should be exercised in any situation where entry is made above a basement fire. Conventional methods such as "sounding" ahead with a tool and checking for sponginess may not provide sufficient warning of a weakened floor. It is recommended to use a thermal image camera to sweep the floor for hot areas before entering and avoid any areas that appear to be hotter than the surrounding floors. Thick carpets or tile floors may compound the risk by making it even more difficult to detect hot spots.
In summary, members should consider the following regarding lightweight floor systems in residential occupancies:
Know the local codes that require fire resistive construction and/or limit combustible storage in unprotected basements.
Conduct pre-incident surveys of new housing developments to check the types of floor system being used.
Use extreme caution when fighting basement fires in all occupancies, including newer residential occupancies.
Work is being done by a number of our fire service partners to investigate this phenomenon and more information will be provided in the future. In the meantime, go to the following websites for more information:
RADIOS MAY FAIL DURING HIGH-TEMP FIRES
Firefighters sometimes find themselves fighting
blazes in temperatures as high as 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Firefighter
gear and self-contained breathing apparatus can allow firefighters to safely
work for a limited time during these conditions. A recently released National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study,* however,
reveals that first responders cant rely on their unprotected handheld
radios even in routine firefighting situations, much less in higher-temperature
fires, where good communications are especially crucial.
The NIST fire engineers tested three representative
portable radio models from three different manufacturers in a wind tunnel designed
to simulate thermal conditions at three different degrees of intensity that
firefighters are equipped to withstand--Thermal Class 1, with a maximum temperature
of 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) for 25 minutes; Thermal Class 2, with a maximum
temperature of 320 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 15 minutes: and Thermal Class
3, with a maximum temperature of 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) for 5 minutes.
Each of the radios tested listed their maximum operating temperatures as only
140 degrees F (60 degrees C).
One radio of the three samples would not transmit
or receive after 25 minutes at 212 degrees F though it did begin working after
a cooling off period. In another 15-minute experiment at 320 degrees F, one
radio went dead within 8.5 minutes. The other two radios suffered significant
performance problems from transmission and reception shutdown to signal degradation
or fluctuation. None survived the Thermal Class 2 test and cool down period.
Portable radios inside pockets or firefighter turnout
gear fared much better. All survived temperature tests at Thermal Class 1 and
Thermal Class 2 maximum heats and times. Pocket protected radios also survived
Thermal Class 3, but exposed cords, speakers and microphones did not, effectively
limiting the radios to Thermal Class 2 electronics. The NIST engineers suggest
that small design changes on the speaker/microphones and cords could allow all
the protected radios to reach a Thermal Class 3 rating.
New Construction Materials Being Used For Propane
CHIEFS SHOULD REVIEW REQUIREMENTS
FOR HANDLING E85 FUEL
FIRE ENGINEERING.COM - March 22, 2006 - The
IAFC would like to alert its members to the requirements for handling E85 fuel,
an alternative fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
Recently, E85 has begun to appear in the Midwest, primarily the states of Illinois
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation
(DOT), fires involving E85 should be treated differently than traditional gasoline
fires, because E85 is a polar/water-miscible flammable liquid. E85 is highly
flammable, and will be easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames. The DOT recommends
following Guide 127 in the 2004 Emergency Response Guidebook.
According to the ERG2004, public safety should:
Call emergency response telephone number on
shipping paper first.
As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate
spill or leak area for at least 50 meters (150 feet) in all directions.