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Firefighter Fatalities and Injuries - The Role of Heat Stress and PPE (IFSI research report)

There is much discussion on this and other training sites related to Firefighter deaths and injuries. This report brings new and important information to the discussion based on research conducted by the IFSI.

This report of the “Cardiovascular and Biomechanical Responses to Fire Fighting and PPE” research project provides a review of the known research and new and important findings concerning the interrelationship of cardiovascular function, biomechanics and the design of personal protective equipment. This research will only be of value to the fire service if it is read and the science it documents is translated into department and firefighter action.

Please use the attached link to download and read the report.

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Replies to This Discussion

Art, thanks for posting this. I haven't read the whole report yet, but I was wondering if staffing was taken into account in this study? It seems to me if you have the proper ammount of people doing the job, that is less exertion on each individual member. Some of my thoughts on PPE as it relates to firefighter heat stress also draw a connection to reduction in fire ground personnel. If we keep cutting the numbers of firefighters on the fireground, ventilation is going to suffer and thus heat levels on the inside will be even higher, thus requiring more PPE to protect the firefighter. Sometimes new technology is a double edged sword.

This study was not related to staffing in any way. The study looked at individual firefighters performing "simulated" fire suppression activities in a "simulated" fire environment. The research was looking at the physiological effects on the body and the changes that occur due to heat stress and additionally, the effects of modified turnout gear.

With that said, I agree with your assessment of workload and staffing. If there are enough hands to do the necessary tasks and divide the labor, no one will be over taxed. As the saying goes, "many hands make light work".
Having joined the fire service at the end of the " 3/4 boots and long coats" era, I feel fortunate enough to have experienced both. Just like any tool or system, PPE is another factor that has to be taken into consideration when operating. When my current dept. went from boots and coats to full bunker gear they did not take the effect of the new gear into account. Needless to say, they were knocking guys out at the first few fires they worked in the new gear! Not too long ago Boston allowed members to chose between boots and bunker gear when responding to automatic fire alarms. I'm not sure if that is still their ploicy or whether it was a study, but they began to realize they were having problems with heat stress injuries when they started using bunker gear. Full bunker gear is designed to protect the firefighter for a limited ammount of time in a flashover situation. However, that is the "doomsday" scenario. There is some value to what the "old" guys say. You could feel heat and adjust your tactics accordingly. If you can read the heat and smoke you can hopefully avoid the flashover condition. One of the other problems too, is that in todays fire environment smoke is fuel and very unstable. This goes back to ventilation!!! Once again, thanks for posting the study. I'm glad there are people willing to study this crucial ingredient in firefighter survival.
Thank you for the invitation to join the group. Thank you also for posting this report. It is going to be very helpful in some arguing for a change in our rehab policies and procedures.


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