Studies have shown that the products of combustion contain contaminants known to cause cancer in Humans. More recent studies conducted at the Illinois Fire Service Institute
looked not only at the contamination of our bunker gear but to the individual as well.
As part of the multi-faceted study involving researchers from IFSI, UL, NIOSH, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Skidmore College, Researchers look to answer the question of "are we doing enough to decontaminate our Firefighters"? The results of the study are expected to be published this year and will include recommendations for establishing a timeline for "putting the firefighter back in service" after a fire.
Note: A summary of the project can be found as an attachment below.
Fire Departments throughout the State of Washington have adopted various gross decontamination practices, so it was our focus this year to provide All departments with a tool to provide the resources needed to decontaminate our gear and equipment as well as address the dermal absorption at the incident scene.
The goal of the Gross Decon Bucket project is to have a bucket in all departments and on all Fire Engines in Washington State. The intent is to provide all responders the ability and the procedures to perform gross deconatamination after every fire (including vehicle, brush, trash etc), have the ability to clean their skin from contaminants, and bag contaminated gear for the return to the station for cleaning.
The buckets contain a brush for removing large debris such as insulation and soot, rescue wipes for wiping face, neck, arms and hands, and 50-gallon garbage bags to place contaminated gear in, for the return to quarters. Other items suggested are spare hoods and latex gloves.
As of June, nearly 100 different departments in Washington have received a bucket from FCSNWA to develop their own Best Practices for Fire Ground Decontamination. Are you one of them? See attached list.