1. #1
    Forum Member
    martinm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Northumberland, United Kingdom

    Default Toxins:the hidden killer

    This is advice ftom the Fire Brigades Union in the UK, but I feel applies anywhere in the world:

    Firefighters can work in questionable and often untested atmospheres and can be called upon to fight many different fires often with little knowledge of what the incident brings after the initial fire is out.This is particularly relevant:-

    In damping down operations
    In salvage
    In making areas safe after fire without Breathing Apparatus.

    Just because the smoke has cleared, the atmospere can be far from safe and Chemicals/Toxins can be absorbed through skin contact, inhaled or ingested by mouth.

    Firefighters therefore risk being poisoned by a toxic cocktail of chemicals.The exposures can lead to a wide range of chronic and acute ill health problems that often go unexplained such as

    Chronic fatigue
    Auto immune diseases

    Contamination may also inrease the risk of degenerative conditions such as:-

    Neuralogical diseases

    For some time now Firefighters have been aware of the dangers of smoke inhalation and the inhalation of toxic gas and information has been emerging of the dangers of work related cancers and some of their causes

    Absorption of toxic chemicals through the skin has been highlighted as an increasingly common area along with ingestion.

    The Fire Brigades Union has recently held a pilot study where 19 members were tested for toxins contained within body fats by means of a needle sample taken from volunteers.These tests showed a common pattern of consistantly raised levels of organochlorines and fire retardants.This did not surprise the consultant Dr Myhill who had the tests carried out.In addition myself and Colin James recently attended the 17th Hazards Conference in Manchester where we met one of the Respondants who had raised levels of toxins even after a year away from operational duty.

    The Fire Brigades Union urges Firefighters to do everything they can to help prevent or minimise exposure

    Insist that Breathing Apparatus is worn at all times when hazards exist or are likely to remain
    Always shower (washing hair) after exposure to smoke or any other toxic atmospheres.
    Ensure all items of Personal Protective Equipment are properly cleaned including helmet and gloves
    Always change working rig clothes worn under P.P.E.
    Record incident as a safety event/injury report.

    The present advise given by the study organiser Dr Myhill is that most toxins contained within body fat can be removed.The most effective way is to avoid exposure in the first place using the methods as descibred , but if contamination is felt to have taken place,it is adviable to members that "sweating it out" eg possibly by regular saunas is a method of detoxification.

    In addition when Brigade Officials spoke to the Survey respondant ,that person had been given dietary and nutritional guidelines to follow.

    The research is still being looked at with a view to a national and local approach to this subject but following the guidelines in this bulletin will help reduce the risks.The National Union guidence at present is to wear BA especially for "turning over" and other tasks undertaken after the initial fire has been brought under control. Finally, make sure that you record even exposure to the "common" products of combustion such as a sore throat, eyes watering or skin irritation/rash.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

  2. #2
    FlyingKiwi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    New Zealand



    Thanks for that info.

    Now wait for the knobbers to come in and tell you how it can be done safely by Juniors / Explorers / support staff without BA after the fire is out.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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