Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighting, Hazmat

Dangers of Fire Smoke Exposure

Issue 3 and Volume 166.

BY ROB SCHNEPP AND JAMES BROWN The Fire Smoke Coalition has been spreading the word around the world about the dangers of fire smoke and the Toxic Twins™-hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO). It does not take a critical examination of scientific data to determine that fire smoke is a toxic soup of dangerous gases and a deadly enemy to firefighters and responders. What is still confusing for responders is how to decide which toxins must be given attention, how to identify them among the other gases and particulates in fire smoke, and at what point the air is safe to breathe without self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or other respiratory protection. Although gas detection is common in the hazardous materials response side of the fire service, the typical line firefighter is unfamiliar with gas detection, gas detection devices and manufacturers, and methods and procedures for detecting toxic gases at…

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