The IFE-USA Branch was highly visible at the FireHouse World Conference held in San Diego, CA from February 6-10 this year.
FireHouse World is staged by FireHouse Magazine and is a truly international event with this year’s theme being “Training Without Barriers or Borders.” Attended by nearly 7,000 fire and emergency services professionals, there were more than 80 education programs offered and approximately 250 vendors exhibited in the trade show.
The vendors included the IFE-USA Branch which staffed a booth next to the FireHouse Theatre, the location for on-going special educational presentations inside the tradeshow exhibit space.
Managing Toxic Exposure
The USA Branch sponsored a day long pre-conference event titled “International Perspective on Managing Firefighter Toxic Exposure Reducing Risk on the Fire ground and in Live Fire Training.” The presenters were Dr. Gavin Horn and Dr. Stefan Svensson. Dr. Horn is Research Program Director at the Illinois Fire Service Institute. His research interests lie in the areas of first responder technology development, firefighter health and safety research, material testing and design, infrared imaging and nondestructive evaluation. He holds a Senior Research Scientist position with the Advanced Materials Testing & Evaluation Laboratory at Illinois. Dr. Horn is also a volunteer firefighter/engineer at the Savoy (IL) Fire Department. Dr. Stefan Svensson is an associate professor at Lund University, Sweden. He started his career as a firefighter in the Swedish Air Force in 1986. Since 1994, he has been involved in experimental and theoretical investigations on firefighting tactics, including firefighting methods, as well as problems of command and control. He is also a crew commander at the local fire brigade.
Firefighting operations in both emergency incidents and live fire training present a risk of exposure to toxic products of combustion. Firefighters may be at risk of a variety of occupationally related illnesses as a result of these exposures. Research has provided considerable information about the toxic nature of the fire environment, but many questions still remain. What are the potential toxic exposures during firefighting operations? What is the risk to firefighters’ health? What steps can we take today to minimize health risk while protecting the community from fire and maintaining competence in firefighting skills?
This workshop provided participants with an examination of current research on toxic exposure during firefighting operations and international best practices in managing this risk. Participants identified practical steps that can be taken today to develop effective procedures and practices that can be implemented to improve safety during fireground operations and live fire training by reducing the risk of toxic exposure.