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The risks to firefighters’ health can steadily increase with each year. Though long-term health complications don’t deter department men and women from confronting these hazards, there are ways to reduce the threat of occupational disease. Respiratory problems (like asthma) are among the most common health problems firefighters experience in their tenure. Other, more serious breathing problems, however, may develop decades later. Studies of firefighters employed between 1950 and 2009 revealed an excess of cancers of the bladder, brain, esophagus, intestines, kidney, lung, prostate, rectum, stomach, and testes. New research has also revealed an increase in rates of mesothelioma among firefighters. 10 Mesothelioma Prevention Tips To prevent developing serious health problems, the 1.1 million career and volunteer firefighters in the U.S. can utilize a few easy strategies. 1. Put on Appropriate Gear Before Exposure to Smoke and Fire A majority of the occupational diseases for which firefighters are at risk affect the respiratory and digestive tracts. The risk stems from cancer-causing particles that typically enter the body through the nose or mouth. Over time, they cause changes in the DNA in the cells lining the lungs, stomach, heart cavity, and more. Prevent inhaling or ingesting dangerous fumes, dust, and smoke by donning the proper self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) before beginning work. 2. Keep Work Gear Separate From Clothing, and Don’t Take Them Home Always keep your gear and clothing separate and avoid taking the gear home to prevent contaminating surfaces Through your normal firefighting activities, your gear will likely accumulate toxic particles after use. These carcinogens (i.e., cancer-causing agents) can be transferred to your clothing through simple contact. Storing your personal clothes together in a bag, trunk, or locker with your gear could be enough to contaminate them. As a result, it’s a good idea to always keep your gear and clothing separate. Also, avoid taking your gear home to prevent contaminating surfaces (such as carpet) there. 3. Completely Clean Contaminated (and Potentially Contaminated) Gear It’s not enough to simply keep firefighting gear and personal protective equipment (PPE) separate to prevent the transfer of potentially hazardous particles. Regularly handling these items could also put you at risk of airborne exposure as well as toxic contact with your skin. Clean all gear and equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and department guidelines to ensure it is safe for future use. 4. Bathe After Possible Exposure to Asbestos and Other Carcinogens The final step in preventing toxic exposure is cleaning is cleaning your hair, skin, and nails after working in hazardous areas. Dust and other pollutants can travel on your body, causing health problems for you and anyone you may come into close contact with. Secondary carcinogenic exposure typically occurs when firefighters bring home contaminants on their body or clothes. Once there, toxic particles may be transferred to fabrics on furniture, carpet, through the laundry machine, and through direct skin-to-skin contact (such as a hug). Wash your skin and hair fully, cleaning beneath your nails too, before going home to prevent unintentional exposure to family members. 5. Follow All Safety Guidelines When Working in Old Buildings, Crumbling Structures Though the use of asbestos (a material directly linked to lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesotheliomas) has dramatically declined since the 1980s, many older buildings still contain large amounts of the material in its insulation, wallboard, and cement. When the materials are mishandled or broken, asbestos fibers can be released into the air, then inhaled or ingested. Follow all safety rules when working in old buildings and crumbling structures to prevent disturbing and spreading asbestos. Replace any asbestos-containing gear with modern, safer versions to reduce your risk of hazardous exposure 6. Replace Old Gear When Recommended, and Replace Any Asbestos-containing Gear Due to the fireproofing qualities of asbestos, it was used as much in firefighting equipment as it was in construction products. Proximity suits, used to provide protection from extreme levels of heat, used a protective layer of asbestos since the 1930s before eventually being phased out of the fabric. Over time and through repeated use, old firefighting equipment and gear may break, tear, or flake, and expose users to asbestos. Replace any asbestos-containing gear with modern, safer versions to reduce your risk of hazardous exposure. 7. Play Close Attention to Your Health and Note Any Changes While following cancer prevention tips can reduce your risk of developing health problems, catching an illness early can also benefit your long-term health. If you notice any changes in your physical, mental, and emotional health, take note of their frequency and severity. Next, make an appointment with your primary care provider as soon as possible to discuss them. For example, if you experience a dry cough for at least eight weeks, you could be experiencing the early symptoms of chronic lung disease. Some respiratory illnesses are reversible and treating them as soon as possible may give you the best prognosis. 8. Make Regular Health Screening Appointments Maintaining a regular schedule of health screenings helps catch abnormalities in their earliest stages Firefighters are regularly exposed to toxic gases, fumes, and dust that can cause respiratory diseases up to 40 years later. Consequently, in many cases of occupational cancer, the individual is not aware of internal growing tumors until it’s too late. By maintaining a regular schedule of health screenings, you may be able to catch abnormalities in their earliest stages. Lung cancer, for example, is considered easiest to treat (and potentially cure) when caught in stages 1 or 2. Advanced-stage lung cancers, on the other hand, may only be treated with palliative care options. 9. Don’t Smoke Smoking tobacco cigarettes not only causes its own long-term health problems, but the habit can also increase cancer risks caused by occupational exposure. Developing mesothelioma, for example, is a greater risk for smokers. Too, smoking can worsen symptoms of respiratory disease (such as cough and difficulty breathing). The International Association of Fire Fighters maintains a page of resources to campaign for smoke-free unions. Other members of the department, family, and friends may be needed to help an individual quit smoking. 10. Research the Latest Safety Protocols The field of fire safety is constantly expanding with new tools and techniques. As recent events continue to reshape the lives of people worldwide, the future of firefighting may likewise change. Continuously researching the latest safety protocols and technology can help protect your overall health for years to come.
We at AEI Cables have sent out a message to the supply chain highlighting the need to use only approved cabling in critical signal and control equipment following the announcement of a revized version of the Code of Practice covering these areas of performance. In an open letter to customers, industry bodies and organizations, we are highlighting how the systems powered by these cables –including smoke and heat extraction systems–are critical in assisting fire services in the case of fire fighting and a safe evacuation. BS8519 Category 3 Control Cable AEI is the only supplier in the UK with independent approval from LPCB for BS8519 Category 3 Control fire performance cables with a fire survival time of up to 120 minutes. We feel strongly about this issue as a matter of safety and compliance. Using inferior types of cable for these applications is dangerous and poses a major risk. Some of these systems will simply not survive in a fire if a sub-standard cable is installed. Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a fire. evacuation alarms The application of Category 3 Control fire performance cables also applies to evacuation alarms for the disabled Indeed, these cables also help fire and rescue services fighting a fire and evacuating people. The standard references and clarifies the products and levels of performance that should be used for all parts of the supply chain from specifiers to contractors and installers. The application of Category 3 Control fire performance cables also applies to evacuation alarms for the disabled in care homes, emergency voice communications systems and voice alarm systems in relevant buildings including tall buildings, office spaces, hospitals, care homes, shopping malls and stadia. AEI Cables’ FiretecEnhanced cabling has been approved and certified by LPCB to BS8519 (Annex B), Category 3 Control in addition to Category 2 Control.The BS Code of Practice under BS8519 contains six categories of cables, three for power cables and three for control cables each covering survival times of 30, 60 or 120 minutes. Mineral Insulated Cabling The Firetec Total Fire Solutions range offers Mineral Insulated Cabling (MIC), FiretecEnhanced fire performance cabling, accessories and technical support from the AEI Cables distribution facility at Washington, Tyne and Wear. All AEI Cables’ products are supplied with approvals from independent bodies including BASEC and LPCB. It also holds approvals from organizations including Lloyds, the MoD, Network Rail and LUL and works to international standards around the world.
From a 48-storey fire in the UAE, to a 200-firefighter-strong blaze at student accommodation in the UK, several high-profile, high-rise fires continue to keep the focus of utilities, regulators, developers, and public associations everywhere on actively seeking ways to reduce the risk of fire with innovative materials. Statistics show that the majority of fire related fatalities occur in a domestic setting between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Protecting high-rise residential buildings from fire, where occupancy rates are high but the reaction to danger is lower (while asleep), is a critical engineering challenge. Fire risk assessment While most recently built high rise buildings will be equipped with risk safety provisions such as wet or dry risers, protected staircases, sprinklers, and communications systems as standard, thousands of post-war, purpose-built flats require careful risk assessment and improvement. What was acceptable at the time of build may no longer meet today’s standards or may have been affected by changing environmental factors such as the encroachment of neighboring buildings. While the fire safety legislation adopted in 2006 has driven improvements that seek to address these types of issues While the fire safety legislation adopted in 2006 has driven improvements that seek to address these types of issues, its application has sometimes been problematic, with varied results from site to site. A fire risk assessment is the first step in evaluating the risks posed and identifying options to reduce the potential for a devastating event. Potential fire risk Electricity substations, which are often located in the basement or adjoining a high-rise building, will often be identified as a potential fire risk due to the proximity of a source of a fuel – mineral oil – to a source of heat and sparks. This concurs with the findings of the MIDEL Transformer Risk Report 2020, where respondents identified fire risk as the second most important consideration when assessing transformer risk overall. Mineral oil is widely accepted as the most flammable of the insulating fluids used within a substation’s transformers, but has persisted in its use due to its price point. A mineral oil fire will burn ferociously, producing thick, black smoke, impeding evacuation by reducing visibility and potentially jeopardizing ground floor and basement exits. Fire suppression systems At their worst, there are documented cases where transformer fires have caused loss of life and significant damage to the environment. They are certainly not a risk to be ignored. In newer buildings, the use of mineral oil in a transformer needs to account for the substation to be constructed to the latest fire safety standard – reinforced concrete or brickwork with a minimum four-hour fire containment rating. The fire risk can be mitigated in a completely different way once mineral oil is eliminated from the equation In addition to fire suppression systems involving significant civil engineering works, these measures do not eliminate the risk of fire by preventing it but are necessary to contain a fire once one starts. Additionally in older buildings, where the retrofitting of concrete reinforcements or a complete relocation of the substation would be expensive and technically challenging (if not impossible), the fire risk can be mitigated in a completely different way once mineral oil is eliminated from the equation. Enhancing fire safety One pioneering UK utility is leading the way in mitigating transformer-related fire risk. Following the fire at Grenfell in the UK, the utility considered that any element of risk was no longer acceptable and so undertook a sizeable and substantial review of its property portfolio. It subsequently identified over 100 residential sites where upgrades could be made to further enhance fire safety and the safety of residents. Many of these higher-risk units are located in embedded substations in the basements of the high-rise apartments that rely on them for electricity. The units range from 500kVa to 1000kVa. After exploring the options, the utility embarked on an extensive program of corrective upgrades at a scale never seen before in the UK. Minimizing fire risk One long-term and economic solution to reduce transformer fire risk stood out; replace the mineral oil in each transformer with a fire safe alternative. Synthetic ester fluids are a K-class rated fire-safe and biodegradable alternative to mineral oil, and it is increasingly being chosen by power utilities and end users to minimize fire risk. The significantly higher fire point makes it the ideal choice for improving the safety of transformers The contract for the utility’s schedule of upgrades was awarded to MIDEL Service Partner Grosvenor Oil Services who opted to use MIDEL 7131, a synthetic ester transformer fluid, that has a high fire point of 316°C, far exceeding that of mineral oil (180°C). The significantly higher fire point makes it the ideal choice for improving the safety of transformers located in residential and high-rise buildings. High-Rise buildings The retro filling technicians leveraged their experience of MIDEL’s ester liquids to the benefit of the project - and the safety of residents. For each site, the technicians inspected the condition of the transformer before draining it of the mineral oil and flushing it through. Once completed, the transformers were retro filled with the fire safe synthetic ester and tested. Replacing mineral oil has several benefits beyond the peace of mind it brings to residents in high-rise buildings. For one, it significantly enhances the sustainability of substations: ester fluids are biodegradable and non-toxic – in the event of a leak, it does not pose a threat to the environment or to people that come into contact with it. Unexpected power outages Ester fluids also keep the transformer in better condition for longer, by reducing the impact that water ingress has on components such as the insulating paper. Because of this benefit, ester-filled transformers require less frequent quality testing (once every five years, rather than once every 12 months). Sites are also better protected against unexpected power outages due to failure Subsequently, this reduces utilities’ maintenance burden as well as increase uptime. Sites are also better protected against unexpected power outages due to failure. Finally, it offers the ability to safely increase transformer load, a benefit that became particularly fortuitous when the COVID-19 lockdown significantly increased domestic property electricity demand. Fire-Safe materials While pioneering, this utility is not alone in its efforts. Utilities across the UK are turning to the benefits of fire-safe materials to reduce the potential for transformer fires in high-rise buildings and higher-risk locations such as hospitals, schools, and shopping centers. The benefits and the process of retro filling is well-established, and with many more people expected to work from home for the foreseeable future, there is not a moment to waste to ensure that the thousands of transformers that supply domestic power are fire safe, sustainable and reliable.
California’s seventh-largest fire agency, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, has taken delivery of two Toyne Pumper Tankers. These two trucks are the district’s first Toyne-built apparatus. Both pumper tankers will replace older engines, enhancing their capacity to fight fires. For twenty years, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District (Metro Fire) has kept a watchful eye over a 359 square mile territory, which encompasses 23 communities and nearly 745,000 residents. To cover this region, Metro Fire has around 600 firefighters, 360 apparatus, and operates out of 41 stations. Each year they respond to tens of thousands of calls, taking over 80,000 calls in 2012 alone. The district’s new Toyne apparatus were designed to meet the needs of the growing communities. Quick fire suppression Each apparatus is equipped with a pair of Waterous CSPA 1000 and E511-C pumps Customized with identical specifications, Metro Fire’s pumper tankers are equipped with bolted/painted stainless steel bodies and are mounted to the Kenworth T800 two-door chassis. Power comes from a Paccar MX 13 engine (producing 510 peak horsepower) and an Allison 4500 EVS transmission. For quick fire suppression, each apparatus is equipped with a pair of Waterous CSPA 1000 and E511-C pumps that are controlled by a Fire Research Pump Boss pressure governor. To complement the pumps’ ability to quickly move water, a 2,000-gallon UPF storage tank was installed. An ICI SL Plus tank gauge monitors the tank. Strengthening response effectiveness Metro Fire’s trucks are fitted with additional equipment that will strengthen response effectiveness. Each apparatus has an Akron Apollo Hi Riser monitor, a set of Whelen PFS2 telescoping lights, and a Foam Pro 1600 Class A foam system. “Delivering two Toyne Pumper Tankers to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District is something we are very proud of,” said Michael Schwabe, President of Toyne, Inc. “Serving such a large fire district, the men and women of Metro Fire deserve apparatus that can handle any call, and that’s what we do at Toyne: build apparatus that are ready to take the call.” Sacramento Metro’s latest fire apparatus were sold to Metro Fire by Hi-Tech Emergency Vehicle Service, a Toyne dealer based out of Oakdale, California.
In Sonoma County, California, Geyserville Fire Protection District (GFPD) strengthened its emergency response capabilities after receiving delivery of a customized pumper from Toyne, Inc., a fire apparatus manufacturer. The latest addition to their fleet comes at a time when the threat of wildfires is an ever-present concern for the district. Earlier this fall, members of the GFPD were among the countless number of first responders that worked tirelessly to contain the Kincade Fire – the largest wildfire to ever occur in Sonoma County. Bolted stainless steel GFPD’s new pumper is mounted on a Spartan Metro Star SMFD chassis and features a 10-inch raised roof cab. Fitted with a 380-horsepower Cummins ISL 9 engine and an Allison 3000 EVS transmission, the apparatus has the power to meet the demands of Sonoma County’s diverse terrain. This Toyne is built with bolted stainless steel, ensuring a long life of service. Water is dispersed by a 1,250-gallon-per-minute Hale Qflo pump, CBP PTO pump, Fire Research Total Control pressure governor, and also includes an Akron Hi Riser monitor. Geyserville’s new apparatus is equipped with a 600-gallon UPF tank and an ICI SL Plus tank gauge. Additional features include a Foam Pro 2001 Class A foam system and Fire Research SPA530-Q28 telescoping lights, allowing GFPD to be prepared for any call. Other unincorporated communities We are very proud to deliver this pumper to the Geyserville Fire Protection District" “We are very proud to deliver this pumper to the Geyserville Fire Protection District,” said Michael Schwabe, president and CEO of Toyne, Inc. “With their unwavering dedication in responding to emergencies on a moment’s notice, they deserve to have equipment and apparatus that are up to the task. And their Toyne Pumper is destined to serve and take the call without hesitation too.” Formed in 1996, Geyserville Fire Protection District serves over 5,000 residents in Geyserville, Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, and other unincorporated communities of northern Sonoma County, California. In total, the district covers more than 215 square miles of Wine Country. To protect the county’s largest fire district, GFPD utilizes three fire stations and a fleet of more than eight apparatus. The district is operated by two full-time and 31 volunteer firefighters. On average, crews respond to nearly 600 calls per year. High-Wind conditions On October 23, 2019, GFPD and other fire units responded to a call about a brush fire on John Kincade Road northeast of Geyserville. Due to high-wind conditions in the area, the fire grew rapidly over several days. Members of the fire district, along with hundreds of other responders, worked around the clock to battle the blaze and assist with evacuations in what is now called the Kincade Fire. After spreading through more than 77,000 acres, the wildfire was fully contained on the 6th of November. Driven to become better prepared for future wildfires, the delivery of their Toyne Pumper marks another step toward that goal. The pumper was sold to Geyserville by Hi-Tech Emergency Vehicle Service, Inc., a Toyne dealer based out of Oakdale, California.
As a professional firefighter, one has likely grown accustomed to people depending on them when disaster strikes their property. And just as the fellow citizens depend on them to suppress a dangerous fire, they depend on fire hoses and other equipment to function efficiently so that the firefighter can do their job. Below is a look at the key role handline nozzles play in extinguishing fires and how they can ensure that the nozzle is kept in good working order. Why is proper nozzle maintenance so important? “The most important element for firefighters to remember with regard to nozzles is that the nozzle is your primary weapon. As such, it’s extremely important that you care for it properly; it should be taken care of in the same manner that a soldier would care for their weapon. You should have a thorough understanding of its operation, maintenance requirements and any special features”, Mike Kirby, Fire Rescue Magazine. nozzle maintenance No two fires are exactly alike. A handline nozzle plays a vital role in extinguishing fires because it performs three important functions that help firefighters customize their approach to a fire. In addition to controlling the flow of water, a nozzle provides the proper reach to access the fire and enables a firefighter to create the proper reach and angle while spraying the fire. Without the proper maintenance, a nozzle may fall short in one or more of these areas, preventing a firefighter from extinguishing a fire. What tasks should be performed during maintenance? Maintaining the handline nozzle is a relatively simple process that can be performed by anyone who uses a fire hose. Any firefighter who uses a hose should receive comprehensive training on nozzle maintenance and should receive ongoing training on a regular basis. Here are some of the key tasks that you should cover when performing nozzle maintenance: Gasket inspection: Check the gasket housed within the female coupling to make sure that it is intact. Regular cleaning: Clean and flush the nozzle regularly to ensure that it is free of dust, dirt, road grime, and brackish water that can impact water distribution. Lubrication: Only lubricate where and when based on manufacturer recommendations. Component check: Inspect the nozzle, including swivel, handle, pistol grip, baffle head and bumper, and any other moving parts to make sure that it is fully intact and has no damaged or loose components Flow testing: Make sure that the nozzle is producing a robust stream of water before deeming it ready to use. It is recommended that nozzles be flow tested using a flow meter. tips and recommendations How frequently should nozzle maintenance be performed? While the frequency of nozzle maintenance will ultimately depend on how frequently one uses the nozzle, a general rule of thumb is to perform a visual inspection of the nozzle every day and comprehensive maintenance with flow testing at least once weekly. General cleaning should be performed after every use to ensure that the nozzle is ready for immediate use. If one detects a faulty or missing component, they should reach out to a dependable firefighting equipment supplier immediately to order replacement components. Depending on the condition of the nozzle, a full replacement might be a more cost-effective long-term option. If one is unsure about the best way to proceed, a product expert can provide tips and recommendations. inconsistent water flow What can happen if one fails to properly maintain handline nozzles? Failure to maintain a nozzle can produce a host of unpleasant consequences and may even prevent firefighters from saving lives. Potential problems range from inconsistent water flow and pressure to the inability to dispense water. Here are some of the possible problems that can arise if one fails to properly maintain the nozzle: Poor water flow: Accumulation of debris inside the nozzle can negatively impact the quality of the water stream Lack of pressure: A poorly maintained nozzle may not deliver the pressure needed to reach a fire Nozzle seizing: If nozzle components are not well lubricated, the nozzle can “seize up” and fail to deliver water onboarding and training platforms What steps can one take to make nozzle maintenance a top priority? As a firefighter, it is up to them to make sure that the gear and equipment is in good working order. Securing buy-in from the leadership team is always a good first step to ensure that maintenance receives the proper emphasis. Ideally, nozzle maintenance should be incorporated into the onboarding and training platforms. For best results, firefighters should have hands-on opportunities to examine a nozzle and identify any missing components or flaws. Flow testing should also be included in the training materials to ensure that users fully understand how a nozzle can dictate how a fire is extinguished. firefighting equipment industry What is the single best way to ensure that the nozzle is in good working order? Even if you follow the tips above and keep the handline nozzle in good working order, there is no guarantee that the nozzle will work perfectly with every use. The single best step they can take to ensure that the nozzle is properly maintained is to seek the guidance of a leader in the firefighting equipment industry. For over 100 years, Akron Brass has helped professional firefighters in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia keep their equipment in proper working order. As an ISO-certified company, Akron Brass is committed to continually improving our nozzle testing and quality assurance procedures. The company leaves no stone unturned in their efforts to ensure that the firefighters find a reliable handline nozzle that meets the needs of their fire department. The company can also provide guidance related to maintenance and spare parts. firefighting equipment experts Proper nozzle maintenance is a critical procedure that should be a top priority for every fire department. Failure to maintain the nozzles can interfere with water flow and prevent firefighters from extinguishing a fire. To help ensure that the handline nozzles are properly maintained, contact the firefighting equipment experts with Akron Brass. With over a century of experience in the fire equipment industry, they have factory trained specialists across the globe who can assist everyone with their needs.
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