Protecting One’s Health When Confronting Fire Disasters
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there have been tens of thousands of firefighters every year who have suffered through injuries while on the job over the past several years. These statistics are only one true but harrowing example of the difficulties many men and women face when saving lives.
Moreover, fire organizations throughout the country have focused on mitigating the health risks firefighters face daily with gadgets that has been proven to reduce the injury or fatality rate on the line for the past three decades.
How Personal Protective Equipment Can Protect You In a Fire?
Fumes and chemicals in many fires (particularly house and wildfires) expose more than fifty thousand firefighters to injuries. Meanwhile, for those who thought that only workers in the medical field were susceptible to being exposed to infectious diseases, an estimated fourteen thousand exposures occur according to the NFPA. This does not account for the minor injuries or near misses that many individuals experience when on duty. Therefore, it is imperative that PPE is used properly to reduce the risks.
There is no question that firefighting cannot be risk-free. It is a high-risk job that requires organizations like OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Act) and NFPA to collaborate on laying out guidelines and rules for the firefighters to follow.
Past accidents (e.g., Notre Dame cathedral) have equipped experts in fire science to understand reducing hazards with the simple implementation of PPE. A caveat to note is that it does not help if it is not worn. Many staff members refuse to wear them. This is the same problem that many countries face concerning a facemask when mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Many firefighting departments have also adopted OSHA’s standard operating procedures for their staff to follow when engaged in high-risk activities.
It all comes back to coming up with policies that serve in preventing more hazards from occurring rather than reacting to situations that happen abruptly. Therefore, we have pinpointed the top PPE equipment for personnel to have when mitigating a house fire.
When it comes to fire safety, being prepared is half the battle. A huge part of being prepared for an emergency is having the proper safety equipment inside of your home. Doing so will also provide you and your family with peace of mind. Here are some must-have pieces of safety equipment to help protect your home and family. Once you have your safety devices, use our whole home safety checklist to practice fire and carbon monoxide safety with your family.
Otherwise known as carbon monoxide alarms, these can detect this colorless & odorless gas as soon as it is produced by sources like fireplaces and furnaces.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, a little will not do harm but if it gets to build-up to the point where the levels are beyond 200 PPM, then 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.
N95 or Any Filtered Masks
With the latest pandemic, it seems that there aren’t enough mouth covers for everyone. Thankfully, fire departments have the N95s and other mouth protecting gear to supply their staff and hopefully share with the victims involved in fire incidents. Unlike water-related disasters, fire incidents have the potential to release more deadly chemicals and toxins in the air. With a burning structure acting as a barrier that prevents these gases and toxins from escaping, it only exacerbates the problem.
Another important tool to have in a home or really any property. 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 how to deal with these elements when they are out of control. It makes all the difference to install one as you are putting the safety of you and the other occupants as a priority. Like the CO alarms, these too should be maintained every half-year as they only use consumer batteries like Duracell, which in the grand scheme of things are not that durable.
Fire Escape Ladders
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 should be included, like extinguishers, in every house or apartment in order to prevent situations like Grenfell from occurring, especially if they are multiple floors. Many residential buildings were built before fire safety codes were legislated and integrated into the designs of many homes/apartment buildings.
This one may have come to you as a no-brainer. However, it is good to reiterate on having this device 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. Also, do not utilize it if you have not been properly trained to do so as it contains sodium bicarbonate and acid.
Last But Not Least Spot Lamps
For those of you unfamiliar with what it is, a spot lamp is a powerfully, oftentimes portable, bright light that many uses to project on to specific locations in a building. Although they are most common in the entertainment industry, it is not uncommon for many in the fire restoration and emergency response field to translate its 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 that spot lamps.
In conclusion, PPE and safety measures are a necessity for firefighters to adhere to. Although their jobs are never risk-free, these often simple but lifesaving procedures are necessary as they mitigate the problems that come with fire incidents.