How Personal Protective Equipment Can Protect You In a Fire?

Dealing with the damage after a fire requires using proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Whether you’re a home or commercial property owner assessing the aftermath of a fire of any scale or a professional in the fire damage restoration industry, understanding how to use PPE is necessary for effective cleaning.

This blog post gives you the tools and highlights the essential personal protective equipment needed for dealing with fire damage, including respiratory protection, eye protection, hand protection, body protection, and foot protection.

Why Fire Safety Starts By Being Prepared Beforehand

There is no question that fire incidents are never risk-free. Anyone involved in these incidents (whether firefighters, restoration contractors, or occupants) is prone to suffer consequences from this high-risk setting if they are not careful.

Moreover, organizations like OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Act) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) have collaborated to establish safety guidelines and rules.

It all comes back to developing policies that prevent more hazards from occurring rather than reacting to abrupt situations. Therefore, we have pinpointed the top PPE equipment for personnel when mitigating a fire in addition to the proper safety equipment you should have inside your home or business. Doing so will also provide you, your family, or staff with peace of mind. 

Respiratory Protection

N95 or Any Filtered Masks Are a Must For Fire Damaged Property

When dealing with fire damage, the respiratory system is the first key part of the body to protect. During and after a fire, the air can be polluted with smoke, soot, and other harmful airborne particles that can pose serious health risks if inhaled.

It would help if you had personal protective equipment, like an N95 mask, to counteract that because they filter out particles. With the latest pandemic, it seems that there aren’t enough masks for everyone.

Thankfully, fire departments have the N95s and other mouth-protecting gear to supply their staff and hopefully share with the victims of fire incidents.

Likewise, respirators with organic vapor cartridges can add more protection against chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and sulfur dioxide, to name a couple. In addition, they protect you from pesky odors such as smoke or that “rotten egg” stench that comes from issues with the gas supply.

Similar to how the airplane tutorials demonstrate, make sure that the respirator fits tightly around your nose and mouth to prevent any contaminants from entering your respiratory system. Regularly replace filters or cartridges as the manufacturer recommends to safeguard against malignant gases or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from entering your system. Using respiratory protection correctly can significantly reduce the risk of respiratory issues.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is another must when dealing with fire damage. Your eyes are vulnerable to smoke, debris, and chemical irritants that may be present in the air or during cleanup. Goggles or safety glasses provide a barrier to protect them from these hazards. This alone reduces the risk of irritation, injury, or infection.

Like the mask, double-check that it fits snugly and securely. At the same time, have them provide full coverage around the eyes. Clear lenses are recommended to maintain visibility during and after a fire incident.

Body Protection

It would be best to have body protection to shield you against burns and minimize contaminant exposure. Flame-resistant clothing or coveralls made from wool, synthetic fibers, and modacrylic from brands like Wrangler, Bulwark, or Ariat are recommended (psst, we don’t receive affiliate commissions from these links).

They provide a barrier between the skin and potential hazards. You could also make these garments yourself by implementing simple steps, such as adding one gallon of water, 9 ounces of 20 Mule Team Borax, and 4 ounces of boric acid.

When choosing body protection, check that it covers as much skin as possible, including arms, legs, and torso. The material should be durable and comfortable during cleanup and restoration activities. Properly fitting body protection can significantly reduce the risk of burns and skin exposure to harmful substances, enhancing safety during fire damage restoration.

Foot Protection

Foot protection helps prevent burns, sharp objects, and other hazards on the ground. Steel-toed boots or sturdy, closed-sole shoes are recommended to provide adequate foot support. These footwear options can help prevent burns from hot surfaces, cuts from debris, and injuries from stepping on sharp objects.

Have comfortable shoes or boots because you will have to wear them for prolonged periods if you are involved with restoration work. This labor may include standing or walking on uneven or debris-covered surfaces. Slip-resistant soles are needed for maintenance to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

What About Equipment?

Why Carbon Monoxide Alarms are Essential Before & After a Fire Disaster

Otherwise known as CO alarms, these can detect this colorless & odorless gas as soon as sources like fireplaces and furnaces produce it.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, a little will not harm. Still, if the levels reach 200 PPM (parts per million, a way of quantifying the amount of gaseous particles present in a particular area), that is a problem.

Not only will you feel nauseous and possibly vomit, but you could also experience fatigue to the point where you could become unconscious or even have chronic health effects, chiefly in the respiratory system. Therefore, when responding to an emergency call, please notify the occupants/landlords about installing these alarms everywhere in the home, as fire incidents can occur when CO levels are high. 

A Smoke Detector May Be the Tool That Saves Your Life

Another critical tool to have in a home or really any property is a smoke detector. Where there is fire, there is bound to be smoke. Here is an article that discusses the relationship between smoke and fire that may shed some light on dealing with these elements when they are out of control.

Installing a detector makes all the difference as you prioritize your safety and that of the other occupants. Like the CO alarms, these should be maintained every half-year as they only use consumer batteries like Duracell.

Fire Escape Ladders are Vital for Harder to Reach Areas

As firefighters, you already have them every time you are on duty. However, this is not the case for those fleeing from danger. Escape ladders, like extinguishers, should be included in every house or apartment to prevent situations like Grenfell, especially if they are on multiple floors.

Many residential buildings were built before fire safety codes were legislated and integrated into the designs of many homes/apartment buildings.

Extinguishers Are Your Solution, Not Water

This one may have come to you as a no-brainer. However, it is good to reiterate that this device should be ready during a fire incident, as many people assume it should be used for any fire incident.

No, fire extinguishers should only be used to put out small fires only. Also, do not utilize them if you have not been adequately trained, as they contain sodium bicarbonate and acid.

Spot Lamps Can Detect What is Hard to See

For those unfamiliar with it, a spot lamp is a powerful, often portable, bright light that many use to project onto specific locations in a building. Although they are typical in the entertainment industry, it is common for many in the fire restoration and emergency response field to translate their use to more urgent needs.

Spotting victims in rubble in the middle of the night or searching for occupants stuck in a burning apartment building that is at least three stories high are some of the practicalities of spot lamps that can be used.

In conclusion, firefighters and disaster response contractors must adhere to PPE and safety measures. Although their jobs are never risk-free, these often simple but lifesaving procedures mitigate the problems with fire incidents.

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