Multiple research reports from NIOSH, University of Cincinnati, and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) show that Firefighters are far more likely to develop multiple types of cancer compared to the general population.
One of the reasons is the constant exposure and re-exposure to our own unclean turnout gear. In addition to this serious health risk, NFPA 1851 also states that soiled and/or contaminated ensembles can have reduced protective performance.
In an effort to increase the health and safety of our members, the Emergency Services Bureau (ESB) in cooperation with the Risk Management Section (RMS) and Supply and Maintenance Division (S&M) have collaborated under the direction of the Fire Chief on a “Managed PPE Plan” which aligns the Department with NFPA 1851 regarding the selection, use, and maintenance of PPEs.
The “Managed PPE” plan is an overall long-term plan that will revolve around the LAFD Risk Assessment. The Risk Assessment is a document that formulates specifications for all PPE based upon numerous factors such as, the City’s climate, population, make up, and types of structures, combined with the Departments fire ground tactics, frequency of use, injury data, etc.
The Risk Assessment is currently being developed by the Risk Management Section. The Managed PPE Plan consists of several phases: PPE Restriction Policy for Fire Station Living Quarters - New approved policy with manual changes is forthcoming.
By not allowing turnout gear in living quarters of Fire Stations, we will minimize our member’s exposure and re-exposure to contaminated gear and limit the cross contamination of station living areas.
Re-establishment of the Department Safety Committee which is designed to assist in implementing safety practices and equipment trials and testing.
PPE Tracking – Beginning in September 2013, the Department will begin bar coding and tracking all PPE which will assist in equipment replacement, budget forecasting, repair, cleaning, and inspection documentation.
All turnout coats and pants will be personally sized for each member. Turnout gear performance is significantly enhanced when it is individually sized to the member.
Individual Distribution (Turnouts) – The Department is pursuing the distribution of two sets of turnouts for each field member to facilitate cleanings, inspections, and increased safety.
Name Panel – As the Department purchases new personalized turnouts, the coats will come with individual member’s name included.
PPE Cleaning – The Department is evaluating contract services that will provide two mandatory cleanings annually for all turnout coats and pants.
PPE Extractors – The Department is currently evaluating the addition of more washer/extractors for members to clean their PPE when needed between their scheduled cleanings by the ISP.
PPE Inspections – All PPE will be inspected by the Independent Service Provider (ISP) after each cleaning. An inspection checklist will be provided to all work locations for use by members, Company Commanders, and Battalion Chiefs at Inspections.
The checklist will also be used at other times when a PPE inspection is needed.
The tracking and personal sizing portions of this plan, began on Monday, September 9, 2013.