You may have heard the term “tactical athlete” a lot recently. The term itself is not confined to the fire service and firefighters but other high-risk professions such as the military. The United States Marine Corp (U.S.M.C.) defines a “tactical athlete” as an individual who trains for combat readiness using a comprehensive athletic approach. Tactical athletes use all facets of strength, power, speed, and agility to improve their combat fitness level to their highest potential.
Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. The requirements set forth are per NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, 2014 Edition. It should be noted that this standard is a comprehensive user document, and all fire personnel should read it to get a fuller picture of PPE cleaning, maintenance, and storage.
Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the hazards associated with structural firefighting. A research team recently conducted a large-scale, comprehensive study to better understand how operating in an environment typical of today’s fireground impacts cardiovascular events and chemical exposures related to carcinogenic risk. The team consisted of the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with support from Globe and academic researchers from Skidmore College and University of Illinois Chicago.
In a recent meeting of the technical committee responsible for revision of NFPA 1851: Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, extensive discussion revolved around proposing modifications in how turnout clothing should be cleaned and, in particular, verified for removal efficiency of harmful contaminants. Changes have been recommended for moving forward with more frequent advanced cleaning of turnout clothing (At this stage, the changes have only been proposed. Ratification of the changes does not occur until the committee has formally voted on the overall standard.)
The fire service has become extremely health conscious ‒ and rightly so. Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. However, there are some misconceptions about PPE that could hamper a firefighter’s ability to take a health-focused approach to these topics. With that in mind, let’s dispel a few myths with facts.
Cancer is one of the biggest issues facing the fire service and a leading cause of death among firefighters. The IAFF is conducting a Cancer Summit on Thursday, February 1, immediately following their Affiliate Leadership Training Summit and Human Relations Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The one-day event will cover a vast array of topics, including the science linking cancer and firefighting, firefighting exposures, current research on the effects of this exposure, and new research on the fight against cancer.
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