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Training For The Future Of Our Firefighters
Training For The Future Of Our Firefighters

The importance of firefighter health has received increased media attention in recent times, and rightly so. Following Covid-19 more emphasis is now being placed on hygiene and disinfection, which I believe will be one positive outcome of this pandemic.  A significant cultural change has been a long time coming to take us away from firefighters wearing dirty kit as a badge of honor that proves their hard work and value, to understanding that clean and well maintained kit supported by detailed and robust hygiene processes that mitigate every contact with contaminants are essential.   Firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens Prior to Covid-19, the media were also reporting more regularly on the very real issue of firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens, an issue when embedded in equipment and absorbed.  Cancer has been highlighted in some scientific reports to be the leading cause of death among firefighters, with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) reporting that cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) also found that in the US, firefighters had a 14 percent higher chance of dying of cancer compared to the general population. The results of these reports need to be underpinned by robust medical research to reflect the landscape, culture, current standards and operational practices for Fire Services in the UK.    Cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017 While these shocking statistics are relatively well known, not enough has been done to force a change. Manufacturers of medical and safety technology products have a responsibility to innovate solutions that support change. To this end, Dräger’s Health for the Firefighter campaign complements our training programmes and communicates the importance of detailed hygiene processes; from the handling and storage of masks and breathing apparatus equipment through to the subsequent cleaning of the kit after an incident has occurred. Training is the first and crucial step in guiding a cultural shift, and ultimately protecting the health and well-being of our firefighters.   Using technology, research and innovation It’s important that training programmes reflect the fact that fire services are the experts – they have the experience and understand what solutions are practical. It is therefore our role to use technology, research and innovation to ensure we work together as partners with applied training helping to create a robust consistency in approach as well as providing a safe environment to train.  Dräger’s training is typically split into three areas:   Training systems - these encompass mobile or fixed training facilities that enable state-of-the-art training so firefighters can experience real fires or extrication scenarios in a safe environment including compartment fire behavior training (CFBT). At Dräger they include a vast portfolio of potential fire and rescue environments, including petrochemical plants, hospitals, schools, high-rise buildings, vehicles, aircraft and subway stations; Technical training - providing comprehensive know-how on the maintenance and repair of equipment – from mechanical and electronic components through to cleaning and disinfection;   Fitness training – providing equipment to help ensure that firefighters are prepared for the physical challenges that come with the job and can be tested and monitored to improve their safety.  The science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants Training has come a long way from when it centred simply around exposure to hot temperatures often referred to as ‘burn to learn’. It is now about much more than protecting a firefighter from becoming burnt, but rather teaching the science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants, not only to support fire and rescue operations, but also to protect the firefighter’s own health.  While Covid-19 is driving improvements in this regard, what is more difficult is helping fire services to realize that technical training on the cleaning and hygiene processes related to kit is just as important to firefighter health.   Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology. While manual cleaning of equipment is still generally the norm, there are many fire services that are moving towards mechanical washing systems, which provide complete consistency in washing temperatures, the amount of detergent used, speed and temperature of drying – which can all work together to disinfect contaminants and to protect the longevity of the kit.   Training and support around these systems encompasses the entire purchasing and use life cycle; from helping to build business cases for procurement and logistical installation support, to advice on the exact processes a firefighter should take when leaving a scene and returning to the station. Support also encompasses the ongoing maintenance of equipment and the quantity of stock required.  An international look at hygiene and infection control Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology Despite such advances, the UK is still behind other countries in terms of our hygiene and infection control practices. Netherlands and Sweden, for example, are two European countries leading the way in shifting the mindset and using mechanical washing equipment supported by improved logistics for managing and tracking PPE and RPE more widely. For these countries, stringent hygiene practices are commonplace and are not just about fighting cancer or the current pandemic, but also about protecting firefighters and support staff from more day-to-day illnesses such as flu, common colds, cold sores and other communicable illnesses.   Within Dräger, my role includes advising on these best-practice examples and new equipment technologies – working with our UK-based manufacturing facility and R&D departments to ensure they are designed with the firefighter in mind, and working with Fire Services, Government and other key stakeholders to help drive improvements to further protect our crews. Having manufactured advanced technology solutions for the Fire Services for more than 115 years, Dräger has the experience and technological know-how to support this necessary change in how we think about equipment, its cleaning, and ultimately how to apply technology and training to make our firefighters safer. 

A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment

Firefighting is hot, hazardous, and let's face it, grueling work. But believe it or not, the job today has become even more challenging as firefighters must deal with increased heat loads, toxic substances and other physical challenges that make structural firefighting one of the most demanding professions on the planet. So, needless to say, being well-trained, physically fit, and safely equipped can make all the difference in the world. Evolving Technology The fact is, as heat loads and toxicity exposure risks increase due to modern synthetic construction, the ways in which fires are fought are changing as well. These shifts, combined with the revolution that’s taking place in firefighter protection technology, have led to new and exciting designs in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) offerings. Technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits Take the tried and true SCBA for instance. Since the invention of the first breathing apparatus in the late 1910s, their primary function has been air delivery. But today, technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits. Revolution Of Life-Changing Technology Consider this: the effects of technology today impact virtually every aspect of modern life. And the same is true for the fire service, as software, thermal imaging, and wireless communications capabilities become more mainstream on the fireground. In response to these new capabilities, the consensus organizations responsible for PPE performance standards (i.e. NFPA and EN) have increased standards by mandating certain electronic components for each firefighter. But performance of these components can be limited by the fact that only so many “parts” can be attached to an SCBA, or because some capabilities are simply out of reach from a budget perspective. Over time, these limitations create long-term implications when it comes to SCBA choice, because the breathing apparatus purchased today may have to be in use for the next 15 years or more. So, what are firefighters to do? Firefighters should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future It’s More Than Air Delivery Missed opportunities for more timely safety improvements – which keep up with the pace of technology – are rooted in a false assumption that all SCBA are comprised of separate, mechanical components – and that the SCBA function is only about respiratory protection. But air-delivery is not the issue because every SCBA meets the standards, and every SCBA delivers air well. Further, looking at the SCBA merely as a separate component for air diminishes its potential to serve as a revolutionary safety technology “platform.” Safety As A System Firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus To keep pace with the rapid improvements in firefighter safety, firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus. Instead, they should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future. I’m talking specifically about platform-type products that can be easily updated with the latest technology, as soon as it becomes available, to help protect them when their lives are on the line. Key Questions To Consider When Looking For An SCBA Include: Does the SCBA have features that allow you to see, hear, and react quickly to changing situations? Can the SCBA sizing be customized to best fit each firefighter? How many total batteries are needed for the SCBA, and how does that affect long-term costs? How well does it integrate with other systems, such as communication devices, portable instruments, etc.? Does the SCBA provide you, your team, and incident command with critical information to make effective, life-saving decisions? Can the SCBA be programmed to meet your standard operating procedures, such as audible and visual alarms at 50% remaining pressure? Is the facepiece reducing or adding to overall SCBA cost and complexity? How easily can the SCBA be updated to meet changing standards? How easily can integrated accessories or features, such as thermal imaging, be added as they are developed in the future? At MSA, we develop technologically-advanced safety equipment designed to help meet today's changing fireground dynamics. We’re committed to setting the pace for safety with continuous improvements and innovations in PPE. For today. For tomorrow. For the future.

The Need For Emergency-Readiness With Chemical Protective Equipment
The Need For Emergency-Readiness With Chemical Protective Equipment

Having the proper fire safety and chemical-protective equipment is imperative where risk of hazardous chemical exposure is great With businesses still facing the effects of the economic crisis with budget cuts, safety remains a key concern when it comes to finding cost-effective solutions without compromising public safety. One type of incident which many businesses are not properly equipped for is hazardous chemical exposure. Ian Hutcheson of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics highlights the importance of having the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for chemical protection and states that such preventative measures can be achieved, even with budget restrictions. While the full-scale media hype about the "Global Financial Crisis" may be behind us, the follow on effects, such as continued tight budgets and reductions in government spending, are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The UK Government recently announced a major spending review with the aim of saving £83 billion over four years. As part of this, 192 QUANGOs will be abolished including Firebuy, the professional buying organisation for the Fire and Rescue Services. This focus on decreased spending means that now, more than ever, departmental budgets are being stretched and every purchase highly scrutinised to ensure the best possible cost efficiencies are achieved. But it is essential that a reduction in spending does not negatively affect public safety. Challenges for Fire and Rescue Services in responding to hazardous chemical exposure Recently, the UK's Audit Commission released a report entitled Business Continuity in the Fire and Rescue Services which investigated the plans the Services currently have in place to ensure that public safety can be upheld during short- and long- term disruptions (such as those caused by transport problems or adverse weather). Overall, the report found that many fire and rescue services have good business continuity management plans, but they cannot cope with every situation indefinitely. Fortunately, chemical incidents are infrequent but it is paramount that public safety is given priority and maintaining a robust, compliant arsenal of chemical-resistant personal protective equipment is essential to being readily equipped for an emergency situation.One area of particular concern was that, during these periods of disruption, less than a third of all Fire and Rescue Services could guarantee the availability of the sophisticated fire safety equipment needed in cases of hazardous chemical exposure.Advances are being made in the development of chemical-protective equipment Chemical protective suits reflect advancements in PPE There is, however, some good news for both the concerned public and those with stretched departmental budgets: advances are being made in the development of chemical-protective equipment that both improve quality and decrease total costs. This means that more Fire and Rescue Services will be able to fit equipment essential to chemical protection into their tight budgets. One such advancement is the availability of limited-life chemical-protective suits. These suits meet safety standards and fit the same application areas as their reusable counterparts, but offer both a smaller upfront purchase price and reduced total cost of ownership. These lower costs are achieved through minimal recertification, inspection, maintenance and storage expenses. Hopefully, decision makers will embrace the advances in chemical-protective equipment to ensure our fire services are readily equipped for all emergency situations. Ian Hutcheson - Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics

Latest Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA) news

MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program Reaches $1 Million Milestone in 2019
MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program Reaches $1 Million Milestone in 2019

MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) provided 13 volunteer fire departments with needed personal protective equipment through MSA’s 2019 Globe Gear Giveaway. Each department received four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear along with four helmets to better protect their members. This year marks over $1 million worth of gear that has been donated to volunteer fire departments in need since 2012. In total, 507 sets of turnout gear have been awarded to 108 departments. “Protecting firefighters is what we do at MSA,” said Eleni Lucido, vice president and general manager of MSA’s business in the U.S. and Canada. “For more than a century, we’ve been committed to providing workers all around the world with the equipment they need to help keep them safe. We’re proud to partner with the NVFC to provide state-of-the-art turnout gear to departments in need.” Struggle funding Resources “Volunteer fire departments often struggle to fund the resources and equipment necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We are grateful for the generosity of MSA, Globe, and DuPont in providing critical, lifesaving gear to the dedicated volunteers who serve their local communities. Through this incredible program, we have been able to increase the safety and protection for hundreds of firefighters throughout the U.S. and Canada.” 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders According to a needs assessment published by the National Fire Protection Association in 2016, 72 percent of fire departments reported that some of their personal protective clothing was at least 10 years old, and 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders. The data also shows that the need is greatest in small communities that are protected primarily by volunteer firefighters. In 2018, the NVFC began asking program applicants if their department had boots, gloves, helmets, and hoods for all of their firefighters. Nearly 50 percent of 2018 gear recipients indicated that they did not. To help address this issue, MSA donated four helmets to each winning department for the first time in 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020. Recipients of 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway The recipients in the 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway are: Aguila (AZ) Volunteer Fire Department Balsam-Willets-Ochre Hill Volunteer Fire Department (Sylva, NC) Canal Fulton (OH) Fire Department Fuego Volunteer Fire Company (Billings, MT) Harbour Grace (NL, Canada) Volunteer Fire Brigade Jacobstown (NJ) Fire Company Kenduskeag (ME) Fire Rescue Rocky Creek Volunteer Fire Department (Burton, TX) Rutland Volunteer Fire Company (Black River, NY) Salcha (AK) Fire & Rescue Stella Rural Fire Department (Rocky Comfort, MO) Utica (MS) Volunteer Fire Department Witt (IL) Volunteer Fire Department To be eligible for the 2019 Giveaway, departments had to be over 50 percent volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be located in the U.S. or Canada, be a member of the NVFC, and demonstrate significant need for new gear. MSA provided complimentary NVFC membership to the first 500 applicants to help departments meet the membership requirement. The application period for MSA’s 2020 Globe Gear Giveaway will open in February. Thirteen departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear along with four helmets to increase firefighter safety.

MSA G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Certified And Compliant With NFPA Performance Standards
MSA G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Certified And Compliant With NFPA Performance Standards

MSA Safety Incorporated announced that its next generation G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) has received U.S. government approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and certification from the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) as compliant to the 2018 Edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1981 performance standards. With this approval, the company can begin shipping the new NFPA-compliant SCBA immediately. Earlier this year, the SEI, in collaboration with the NIOSH, established a “Common Announcement Date” at which time all breathing apparatus manufacturers that successfully completed testing would receive SEI certification notification at the same time. Demand For New Breathing Apparatus Technology The Common Announcement Date, which was originally anticipated in the second half of August 2019, was postponed to October 9, 2019. Late last week, all breathing apparatus manufactures who had successfully passed required testing, which included MSA, were notified that the Common Announcement Date would be moved to September 30. “We are extremely pleased that the common announcement date was expedited,” said Jason Traynor, MSA's General Manager for Global Respiratory Protection and Fire Helmets. “The demand for new breathing apparatus technology in the U.S. Fire Service has been very solid, and today we’re excited to know that we can continue to help meet that demand without any further delays related to product approvals and certifications.” NFPA 1981 Is The Standard On SCBA As a matter of background, NFPA 1981 is the standard on SCBA for emergency services, establishing respiratory protection and functional requirements. The 2018 revisions in NFPA 1981 include changing the connection requirements for the SCBA regulator, now requiring two distinct actions (i.e., push and pull) to disconnect the regulator from the facepiece. Other changes include a modification to data logging requirements for breathing rate and cylinder pressure.

NVFC, MSA And DuPont Collaborate On New Turnout Gear For Volunteer Fire Departments
NVFC, MSA And DuPont Collaborate On New Turnout Gear For Volunteer Fire Departments

Many volunteer departments are forced to make do with an inadequate amount of turnout gear or with worn-out, non-compliant gear they can’t afford to replace. That’s why MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are working together again in 2019 to distribute new turnout gear to volunteer fire departments through MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program. This annual program began in 2012 to help departments in need properly outfit their crew. To date, the program has delivered 455 sets to 95 departments. NVFC Partners With MSA And DuPont “The NVFC is excited to partner with MSA and DuPont again this year on our annual giveaway,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Proper turnouts are essential to ensure the safety of our boots on the ground, but many volunteer departments struggle to provide adequate protection to their firefighters. We are grateful to MSA and DuPont for their generosity in giving back to those who serve.” MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need" “MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need,” said chief operating officer of MSA’s Globe firefighter protective apparel Tom Vetras. “For more than 100 years we’ve been dedicated to protecting those who protect us, so when there are first responders in need – we’re proud to be able to help.” Firefighters’ Protection and Safety “With DuPont’s continued focus on protecting firefighters, we are proud and humbled to partner alongside MSA and the NVFC on this much needed gear giveaway program,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager, DuPont. “Ensuring that these brave men and women are protected as they selflessly serve their communities is paramount to DuPont, and we look forward to the kick-off of another successful Globe Gear Giveaway campaign.” The 2019 application period for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway is now open. 13 departments will each receive four sets of new gear, for a total of 52 sets. The first 500 applicants will also receive a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. Departmental Criteria To be eligible to apply for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway, departments must meet the following criteria: Be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50 percent) Serve a population of 25,000 or less Be located in the U.S. or Canada and legally organized under state/province law Demonstrate a need for the gear Department or person applying must be a member of the NVFC. To help departments meet the membership criteria, MSA will provide a complimentary NVFC Membership to the first 500 applicants.

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