All firefighters need respiratory protection
Steven E. Daveler
As a respiratory therapist and an EMT/firefighter, I have seen and heard of firefighters experiencing the reactive airways dysfunction syndrome described by Chuck Herzog in the October 1994 issue.
I have a history of asthma but have never been in a situation where firefighting has induced an asthmatic reaction or other symptoms. The fire department I belonged to had a strict policy and officers who demanded that all firefighters involved with fire suppression wear SCBAs.
I agree with Herzog that some type of cartridge respirators should be worn by investigators and post-cleanup crews. In viewing news clips, I see personnel without respiratory protection walking through burned-out buildings. In view of the availability of light respirators and the fact that we know it is dangerous not to wear respiratory protection, I would hope all fire departments–volunteer to full-time paid–will protect their firefighters.