Can SMARTER Technology Reduce Firefighter Injuries and Fatalities?

Can SMARTER Technology Reduce Firefighter Injuries and Fatalities?

By Denise Smith, PhD, FACSM; Professor, Skidmore College; Principal Investigator, SMARTER Project Most of us are aware that technology is becoming increasingly prevalent. Almost every firefighter has a smart phone with impressive computing powers and the ability to provide extensive amounts of data upon demand. But, how does advancing technology affect the fire service? More importantly, how could technology make the fire service safer? SMARTER Project A new research project, called SMARTER, is focused on advancing technology to improve health and safety in the fire service. The SMARTER project (Science, Medicine, Research, Technology for Emergency Responders) aims to employ scientific advances, medical knowledge, research findings, and technological solutions to reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities. This research is being led by Skidmore College with collaborative support from University of California at Los Angeles, University of Illinois Fire Service Institute, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Fire Protection Research Foundation, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Hanover Park (Illinois) Fire Department, Globe Manufacturing Company, Zephyr Medtronic, International Association of Firefighters, and others. This collaboration between scientists and technologists, fire service partners, and industry leaders kicked off in January in the Chicago area when researchers from Skidmore College, located in Saratoga Springs (NY), began an ongoing collaboration with the Hanover Park Fire Department. For the next 12 months Hanover Park personnel will wear specially designed monitoring equipment to collect physiologic data showing the impact of live field operations on their bodies. Addressing Firefighter Physiological Vulnerabilities Despite all the dangers on the fireground, it is the body’s own physiological response to firefighting that kills or injures most firefighters. A shocking number of firefighters are...
Firefighter face, eye protection advances stalled

Firefighter face, eye protection advances stalled

Attitudes, not technology, are what’s holding back significant improvements to firefighter safety One of the elements of a firefighter’s protective ensemble that often gets neglected is eye and face protection. Most often firefighters rely on their self-contained breathing apparatus facemask, but SCBA are not worn for every type of emergency response. Manufacturers must provide firefighter helmets with either a set of goggles or a faceshield, which is intended for supplemental eye and face protection. Yet, these items may not be the most effective for emergency response activities other than structural firefighting and also are easily damaged and become a source of contamination. Perhaps, it is time to rethink how eye and face protection is provided. It’s been a running debate in the fire service and one that NFPA recently looked at. Without any doubt, the full facepiece of an SCBA is a complete and reliable form of eye and face protection. When properly worn, it protects against physical, thermal, chemical and biological hazards. Current standards dictate a high degree of protective performance including extreme thermal exposures. The committee that writes standards for SCBA has endeavored to make the SCBA the most survivable part of the firefighter ensemble on the basis that protecting the firefighter’s air supply should be of paramount importance. This philosophy transcends into similarly providing high-quality eye and face protection. While there are certainly circumstances by which this protection can be compromised, the use of SCBA facepieces during structural fires and similar immediately dangerous to life and health environments is quite appropriate. FACEPIECE LIMITATIONS If there are any limitations for the SCBA facepiece in terms of eye...
[Video] How Your Bunker Gear Works

[Video] How Your Bunker Gear Works

Tactics in the fire service have changed. It used to be that firefighters stopped the fire at the building. But now they’re going in deeper to stop the fire at the room of origin. PPE is a critical line of defense against the dangerous environment in which firefighters perform their duties. Firefighters need training not only on the performance of their gear and proper donning and doffing but also on the limitations of their gear. This video will provide important information on: How bunker gear is designed to work Why fit is important The reasons to conduct a risk assessment before selecting gear How to properly inspect bunker...
Application Period Now Open for 2017 Globe Gear Giveaway to Volunteer Fire Departments

Application Period Now Open for 2017 Globe Gear Giveaway to Volunteer Fire Departments

Turnout gear is vital to protect responders in their everyday operations. However, the National Fire Protection Association’s Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service reported that 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders, and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of departments reported that at least some of their personal protective clothing was at least 10 years old. The need is greatest in communities under 10,000, which are typically served by all- or mostly-volunteer departments. Globe, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have teamed up to support local responders with much needed gear through the Globe Gear Giveaway. Now in its sixth year, eligible departments can apply for four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to better protect their members. The application period for the 2017 Globe Gear Giveaway is now open. A total of 52 sets of gear will be awarded to 13 departments in need. The first 500 applicants will also receive a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of Globe. “The NVFC is grateful to Globe and DuPont for recognizing the need for gear among resource-constrained volunteer departments and working to enhance the safety and protection of our boots on the ground firefighters,” said NVFC Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “Through this program we have been able to provide over 350 firefighters with the gear they need to safely and effectively do their jobs.” In order to apply for the Globe Gear Giveaway, departments must meet the following criteria: be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50 percent) serve a population of 25,000 or less be located...
Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

We once saw dirty firefighting coats and pants as badges of honor. Now we know that soiled gear can be carcinogenic, spread communicable disease, absorb radiant heat, conduct electricity and can be flammable. In short, clean PPE can help you live longer. NFPA 1851 says to evaluate gear after each use to determine the appropriate cleaning level. This includes instructions for routine cleanings at the scene and advanced cleaning at least once a year. To read the seven steps to clean firefighting turnout gear infographic, fill out the form below: Fill out my online form. Fill out my Wufoo...
Helping Provide Adequate Protection for Our Volunteers

Helping Provide Adequate Protection for Our Volunteers

For the fifth year, we’ve teamed up with DuPont Protection Solutions and the National Volunteer Fire Council to give back to the community of volunteers that is the backbone of the American fire service. Through our Globe Gear Giveaway Program, a total of 13 departments received four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear each. Awards in the 4th quarter were made to the following departments: Northwest Washington Volunteer Fire Company (Salem, IN) ‒ The Northwest Washington Volunteer Fire Company serves a 44-square-mile area in southern Indiana. After seeing a 25 percent increase in structure fires and a 50 percent increase in brush fires over the last few years, they enacted a recruitment campaign which increased their staffing from four to 11 firefighters. Most of their annual budget is spent on insurance, so they requested donated gear from other area departments to outfit their new volunteers – and traveled hundreds of miles to pick up the donations. Although they were able to get sets for everyone, all of the gear is more than 10 years old with most more than 15 years old. Most of their turnout pants have fraying threads, broken zippers, and damaged knee pads. The coats have the department names and last names of the previous owners. Despite these limitations, they work hard to serve their community, organizing events such as a township clean-up day and children’s toy drive. Sylvia-Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Department (Dickson, TN) ‒ The Sylvia-Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Department is a small department in a very rural section of Dickson County in Tennessee. The department was formed in 1998; by 2012 it was...

Health & Safety Resolutions, Inspired By Research

As we get closer to 2017, many readers are making New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it is to exercise more, eat healthier, or take a training class. For firefighters, any of these resolutions could help you have a healthier, safer 2017, but the best resolutions are the ones you keep, and sometimes it is better to have a little more specificity. In anticipation of the 2017 results from the Illinois Fire Service Institute Cardiovascular And Chemical Exposure Project, we’ve gathered five firefighter resolutions that you can take right now. We formed these resolutions using early research findings expressed at the June 2016 IFSI roundtable of fire service experts curated by Globe and Fireengineering.com. Watch The Video: Five Resolutions For Firefighters 1. Improve Decon (don’t forget your hands) Decontamination of hands and proper hygiene can help you avoid accidental exposure to carcinogens through food or skin. 2. Prioritize cleanup of skin While cleaning gear and equipment is important, cleaning your skin should take priority. 3. Wear SCBA Utilize your protective equipment any time you may be exposed to smoke or fumes. Exposure happens on the fire ground even outside of a building. 4. Take personal responsibility Change starts with you. Assume the responsibility and make health-conscious choices for yourself and your fellow firefighters. 5. Add “health” to Health & Safety Seek out preventative care and opportunities for early screening and detection. Prepare your body to best face the risks associated with firefighting. Need more ideas? Download The Impact of PPE on Firefighter Health and Safety guide...
[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

The fire service has become extremely health conscious ‒ and rightly so. PPE is a critical line of defense against the dangerous environment in which firefighters perform their duties. Proper cleaning and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. This video will provide important guidelines on: The cleaning requirements set forth in NFPA 1851 The proper way to machine wash turnout gear Tips on drying turnout gear How and where to store your...
Easy-to-Understand NFPA 1971 Garment Performance Testing Coming Your Way

Easy-to-Understand NFPA 1971 Garment Performance Testing Coming Your Way

By Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager The 2018 Edition of NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, is anticipated to be published in the third quarter of 2017, barring any public objections to the standard. NFPA standards have always included an annex, which is intended to provide explanations, clarifications, and even non-mandatory suggestions. However, the 2018 revision of the standard has gone a step beyond and introduced Annex B, which is intended as a guide to better understand performance requirements. This annex is written in easy-to-understand laymen’s terms and provides not only the test method and section in which the test is located, but also describes how the test is conducted, as well as explaining exactly what is being tested and the reason behind the test (i.e. why is it tested). Additionally, every test includes an actual photograph or drawing illustrating how the test is run. Below is an example of Annex B (sans the photographs in the actual annex) to demonstrate the layout of the annex, showing just a small sampling of the required testing performed on garments. NFPA is a standards writing organization that uses an open, consensus-based process for the development and revision of all standards. An open consensus-based process means that individuals as well as organizations have provided input and feedback on the 2018 Edition of NFPA...
4 Garment Changes with NFPA 1971, 2018 Edition

4 Garment Changes with NFPA 1971, 2018 Edition

By Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager NFPA standards are revised every five years as a matter of course. There have been times when the process can take a little longer, resulting in a standard that is published in six years rather than the normal five, and occasionally the standard can be “short cycled.” A standard is short cycled only when there is a compelling reason to revise sooner than the normal five years, such as a breakthrough in technology or a previously unknown potential for harm. In the case of NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, the current standard is the 2013 edition and, following the normal five year cycle, the next revision will be the 2018 version. As of today, the standard is on schedule and is anticipated to be published in the third quarter of 2017, barring any public objections to the standard. What follows are four changes impacting garments that will occur with the 2018 revision: Coats and pants certified to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1971 will be required to have some type of access opening for inspecting the interior of the liner/moisture barrier system, which up until now has just been an option offered by some manufacturers. Outer shell fabrics are being required to meet an increased water absorption resistance; the current requirement is for no more than 30% absorption, and the new standard will change the allowable absorption to only 15% maximum. Changes are also being made to several test methods, most notably the shower test, which includes a new shower spray configuration. Additionally,...