The University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue its research on firefighting exposures to occupational cardiovascular and chemical risks. The $1,390,724 grant is part of FEMA’s Fire Prevention & Safety grants program and is the seventh grant that IFSI has received since 2007 from this agency.
Critical new information that the IFSI Research Program has gained from its “Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks in Modern Firefighting” project is characterizing fireground exposures. In this new project, we will extend and compare this data to cardiovascular and chemical exposure risk associated with modern training fires. This complete data set will be rigorously processed, analyzed and synthesized, then packaged into an educational toolkit for firefighters, fire officers, standards-setting bodies and local government officials.
With this comprehensive data analysis, fire and public officials will be have information to effectively implement policies for minimizing cardiovascular strain and exposure risks to firefighters.
According to Dr. Gavin Horn, Director of Research for IFSI, “Specifically, this new project will study risks associated with fires in buildings with typical household furnishings compared with training fires that use gas-fired props, theatrical smoke and/or natural wood products.” He added that the toolkit will be the first of its kind to scientifically characterize and broadly disseminate the physiological changes and time course needed for firefighters to recover following work in firefighting environments. The study will also examine firefighters’ personal and PPE exposure to products of combustion and the effectiveness of cleaning procedures.
“This analysis, translation and dissemination of information will provide the most relevant dialogue for a national discussion on a timeline to return firefighters to service after a fire,” Dr. Horn added.
The Illinois Fire Service Institute is the statutory State Fire Academy for Illinois. In addition to training provided at its Champaign campus, the Institute offers one-day hands-on classes for fire departments at Regional Training Centers and local fire stations across the State. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information and research.
For more information about the Institute’s research, call 217-265-6563.