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Our department's respiratory policy includes air monitoring (4 gas) before removing our SCBA at structure fires. This has been a positive step forward from the days of "the smoke doesn't look bad anymore so I can take it off".

We are now researching doing additional monitoring for other gases (i.e. cyanide) as well as the use of APR's when appropriate and safe. Has anyone else tackled these topics?

I have also attached our department's respiratory protection policy in case it is of value to anyone. We will be updating it soon to include the Rule of Air Management.

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Hey brother...

It was sure great to see you at the big show. We are working to develop policy that addresses the reality that what we are breathing during overhaul is known to be bad. That simply is not in question anymore.

The hazardous particulates, lingering gases and new gases due smoldering areas are a very real cause of death. It seems to me we are going to be moving to an SCBA during overhaul policy that is very strict. I'm not sure how else to protect our people when so many variables are unknown.

This will require more crew rotations, more uses of firewatch (ugghhhh) and discipline of company officers to see that the troops are protected. It is amongst the least pleasant jobs on the fireground, but that should not lead us to drop our guard and pay the price for it.

I'd be very interested in how others are addressing the problem.

All our units have 3 cell meters (BW, including O2, LEL and CO). Some have the H2S cell too (and we are extending the amount of 4 cell meters). Whenever more is needed, the hazmat officer on duty is called in. We hazmat officers have the following additional gas analysis possibilities:
- BW GasAlertExtremes NO, NO2, SO2, HCN, PH3
- MSA Orion CO2, NH3, Cl2
- a whole range of Dräger gas tubes
- air samplers to take air samples to have them analysed by our national environmental lab
We need to be on the incident location within half an hour.

But the biggest safety is not measurement, but strictly using BA downwind and whenever else there may a chance to inhale smoke.
All our units have a 3 or 4 cell air monitor - but there is no obligation to use it in every structure fire. If our units distrust the air quality, they prefer to call me or another hazmat officer in and carry out more extensive testing. Not just for the safety of our own people but also to determine the risk for others.

But to most of our units, most fires are just regular fires and we still have to educate them that there can be many more unwanted gasses in the smoke than they expect - also when the smoke looks thin, whitish and not so dangerous.

Today still we had a fire in which I was called in. The fire was in a large storage of building debris. I was only called in when most of the smoke had already disappeared and there were hardly any decomposition products left to be measured (I hate that - how to make someone feel rather useless). The first officer on the spot was too busy managing the fire to think of any smoke effects downwind. The second officer who was called in had more time to think of side effects and decided he wanted me in.

We hazmat officers do standard measurements on O2, CO, H2S, LEL, NO, NO2, SO2, HCN, NH3 and Cl2 in smoke with electrochemical cells. Additional gasses are either measured with Dräger tubes or with our Miran Sapphire.
Tomorrow I have a talk with our monitor supplier to get an electrochemical HCl cell. I love the advantages of continuous measurement.

Jetty Middelkoop
Hazmat Officer
FIre Dept. Amsterdam Amstelland
The Netherlands
We reciently began a post fire air monitoring policy. we patterned it after the reasearch that IAFF and IAFC have done. We check for CO and HCN as these are the worst to deal with. we use the NIOSH PELs of 35 PPM for CO and 4.7 PPM for HCN as our guide. This way when we have mutiple fires we will still be within safe limits. Anything less than those numbers is "safe" and crews can remove SCBA. The air is sill monitored however and if the levels rise above the safe limits, the SCBA goes back on.
The crews were reluctant at first, but now its "old hat". And the crews are not as tired or complain about headaches as much. These are some of the side effects for both CO and HCN exposure.

Stay safe

Strong work brother...

That departments across the country are actively addressing Air Management and recognizing the disastrous affects smoke is having on the health and survival of their firefighters is awesome beyond words...

You are part of the solution and I'm proud to stand at your side...



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