Campaign launched to warn first responders of CO hazards

Published:  13 January, 2011

The International Association of Fire Chiefs has joined Masimo and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) to announce the launch of "The Silent Killer," an educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of the duty-related dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and reducing the known risk factors that unnecessarily kill or injure fire fighters each year.

This important new health and safety campaign includes a dramatic six-minute video that highlights the immediate and long-term health risks associated with CO exposure, the emotional impact these risks can have on fire fighters and their families and advocates proper prevention strategies. The video can be viewed online here and through complimentary DVD’s distributed to fire departments. 

“The IAFC is pleased to be a part of this important educational campaign,” said IAFC President and Chairman of the Board, Chief Jack Parow.  “Carbon monoxide is a real risk that fire fighters and first responders face every day. With the proper awareness, precautions, and testing, we can prevent firefighter deaths and extend lives." 


Carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger at every fire, but this "Silent Killer" is often present without symptoms, making awareness, proper diagnosis and treatment difficult. This puts fire fighters on the scene of a fire at significant risk because even mild CO poisoning can rob the brain of oxygen, which can lead to poor decision making.It can also rob the heart, brain, and vital organs of oxygen, causing life-threatening complications — with half of on-duty fire fighter deaths being attributed to heart attacks or stroke. Just one severe CO poisoning almost doubles the long-term risk of death.

This new education campaign urges fire fighters to take personal responsibility for their health and safety by recognizing the occupational hazards of CO exposure and wearing protective masks during both active fire and overhaul operations to prevent unnecessary risks.

It also encourages fire fighters to get their CO levels tested on the fire scene with an approved noninvasive portable device6 and, if elevated, to seek immediate treatment, even if they are feeling well.


The video was produced and narrated by actor, Randolph Mantooth.  "Too many of our fire rescuers and first responders do not believe they too are in danger and, consequently, do not adequately protect themselves from becoming unknowing victims of CO poisoning," said Mantooth, a vocal advocate for CO awareness and prevention.

"That's why it has become my mission to ensure that each and every fire fighter and emergency first responder knows and understands these significant occupational hazards, how to properly protect themselves, and how to prevent unnecessary health risks to improve the odds that they will be around tomorrow to do what they were born to do," Mantooth said. 


"CO is a significant and deadly occupational risk factor for fire fighters," said Harold A. Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. "We know that carbon monoxide (CO) is present in every fire and symptoms of CO poisoning are nonspecific and easy to miss. Any fire fighter potentially exposed to CO and presenting with headache, nausea, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal symptoms should be assessed."

Masimo Founder and CEO, Joe Kiani, stated, "We are proud to have supported the development and dissemination of this educational material for fire fighters and first responders. The 'Silent Killer' campaign is our opportunity to help save the lives of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for each of us. We know that the more successful this campaign is in reaching and educating them about the hidden dangers and risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, the fewer of our heroes will become victims and have their lives shortened by carbon monoxide poisoning."

The new website was specifically developed to help raise awareness among fire fighters, first responders, emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, and their friends and families about the unsuspected occupational dangers of CO poisoning and how best to protect themselves. In addition to the video, the Silent Killer website features articles and resources which address the health and safety risks of CO poisoning.

  • Operation Florian

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