I think that it often a question of comfort level. We tend to shy away from what we don't know.
I also think that most of us tend not to consider the Hazmat potential from the "routine" responses. We expect Hazmat responses when Ethel Q Public calls and says she smell something funny outside her house and we respond and find that Acme Chemicals newest driver,
Wile E Coyote, has done something wrong.
I think another factor is the Chemistry angle. In college I took two Chemistry classes, Fire Science Chemistry and the Chemistry of Hazardous materials. Based on the first class, I formed a very dim view of me ever being able to understand Chemistry. The class was very difficult and I had a lot of problems, even though I was taking General Chemistry at the same time.
The second class was taught by a firefighter. It was a more simplistic view at how we need to deal with the Chemicals, not how to make battery acid from drinking water. Stuff like, if it ends in "ide" then it will probably do this, etc, etc.
I am currently trained to Hazmat Ops level and am comfortable with being able to handle "routine" Hazmat calls. We are fortunate that we have a Statewide Hazmat team made up of Firefighters from across the State. Our closest techs are 10 or 15 minutes away.
Thanks for the reply. I agree that we tend to stay with things that we are comfortable with. One of the things that concerns me is the lack of knowledge of what we deal with on a fire. You don't have to be a chemist, but anything that can harm me I want to know how. It's not enough to know that smoke is bad, we need to know why!! I have attended chemistry courses that were way above what we need to know. Covalent & monovalent bonding, who cares. What we need to know is what type of protection is needed,what harm it will do to me, and how do I detect it. When I teach chemistry thats what I use. 2 Instructors from the IAFF taught me how to teach chemistry that is applicable for the fire service Joe Gorman of Fairfax Co. & Chris Aguirre a Lt. from Miami have a website http://www.hazmatiq.com/ that gives us what we all need to be better firefighters
I have found, once it was put into "easier" to understand language, my interest in it has grown.
I also agree that I would like to be aware as possible about every hazard we may come into contact with. Like with Air Management, once you see how bad the smoke really is, you tend to think a lot harder about making sure you don't breathe it.
Is it Coffee? I have a Bat Chief that insists on putting 24 oz in a 12 oz cup then walk down the hall like some 2 year old trying to find a bathroom. No most incidents involve a hydorcarbon typically Gasoline. The numbers are usually consistant year after year. According to the NRC there was over 100,000 gallons spilled in the US from 1999-2004 at both fixed and mobile incidents.
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