PPE FOCUS

Published:  08 April, 2010

Firefighter fatalities are going down – that is the good news. The bad news is that every year firefighters across the world are still losing their lives in ways that could be avoided. It will come as no surprise within this professional community that very few lives are lost to burns – a testament indeed not just to the high level of training that is given but also to the effectiveness of the PPE that is worn by firefighters. What is perhaps less well understood is that a large proportion of fatalities, nearly 50% in the most recent figures to come out of the US, are caused by heart attacks brought on by over exertion and, significantly, by heat stress. It is a sobering figure that should remind everyone that PPE is not simply about protecting firefighters from the immediate threat of fire. Modern designs of garments and fabrics offer protection for people who have to work in what has to be the most unfriendly environment. Keeping body temperatures at a safe level for as long as possible is the aim and each step forward in improving the performance of PPE helps to ensure that fatalities continue on their downward path. It is also worth pointing out that these positive steps forward are to some extent counterbalanced by the modern trends in building construction. While the goal of reducing global warming is something in which we all share, the increased use of insulating techniques and materials is undoubtedly resulting in more hazardous and dangerous firefighting conditions. Two things are clear. Today’s basic firefighting training has to focus more than ever on a practical, commonsense approach that alerts firefighters to potential problems during an incident. Secondly, the correct level of protection is more important than ever as firefighters face both old and new hazards. Readers that take advantage of the fire protective expertise of the organisations feature in this supplement will go a long way in ensuring their firefighters suffer no needless injuries or worse.   

 

File: PPE Sup.pdf (1519k)
  • Operation Florian

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