IAFC Reports Smoke Injuries on Increase
Reports by the International Association of Fire Chiefs show that during August and September nine out of ten fire fighters suffering on-job injuries were victims of smoke inhalation. Earlier IAFC surveys based on 472 fires during a nine-month period has established an eight out of ten ratio. Also, a recent survey by United Press-International reported greater interest in and use of more personal protective equipment, and signs of a possible reduction in smoke inhalation cases.
The increase, amounting to 10 per cent, was reflected in 98 fires analyzed by IAFC during a two-month study of reports from various parts of the country. Injuries totaled 522, 488 of these were to firemen. Smoke inhalation injured 426—or more than 87 per cent —of the fire fighters, 55 of whom required hospitalization. There were two deaths, including one from a heart attack induced by smoke inhalation.
The smoke-induced heart attack was reported in one of the 37 residential fires studied. These caused injury to 83 firemen, including 68 who were victims of smoke inhalation. However, fires in commercial-type structures proved most hazardous. A total of 354 firemen were injured while fighting 50 fires; 315 bysmoke inhalation (50 in one fire alone).
The IAFC says the survey points up the need for more personal protective equipment, particularly respiratory protection, and proper training in use of that equipment among firemen. IAFC is urging fire chiefs and municipal executives to place the same emphasis on personal protective equipment that they have been giving to major expenditures for extinguishing equipment.