Firefighting

SELECTING PPE FOR OPTIMAL PROTECTION

Issue 9 and Volume 159.

BY CHRISTOPHER HAWLEY Selecting protective clothing for hazardous situations has always been difficult. Terrorism incidents add another layer of issues to the selection process. When responders are going to enter or work in a potentially hazardous environment, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for their survival. The only way to determine if your protective clothing posture is appropriate is to use a risk-assessment process. For chemical or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scenarios, many response teams use a risk-based response approach that classifies potential risks in four basic categories: fire (reactivity), corrosive, toxic, and radioactive. Recent innovations, which will be discussed later, have made this decision process much easier. FACTORS TO CONSIDER Several other factors affect the selection of protective clothing, such as state of matter, container shape and size, quantity of material, and environmental conditions. Other than for heat stress, these factors are not in any specific order,…

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