Pressure— Not Always from Pumps
In the business and industrial sectors of our economy, pressures of self-interest groups are a way of life. Fire department members have usually been relatively free of such “push-me, pullyou” influences—until recently.
The building and architectural industries have brought intense pressure to bear against the life safety systems, sprinkler and integrated alarm system recommendations and ordinances. Evidence of these antics were in our newspapers and courts daily. In trying to do the most good for the most people, fire officials are often frustrated by self-interest delays in what should have been speedily enacted legislation. Frustration and confusion again confront our thinking firefighters as in the case of the pros and cons of the toxicity issue of the plastic industry and, in particular, polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The plastic industry has formed a funded foundation to answer the “shotgun blast” accusations of a governmental sounding group transmitting a loud alarm on toxicity of plastics, particularly PVC, when involved in fire occupancies. On one side, fire deaths and pending disasters are blamed on the use of PVC in building services with such statements as, “This stuff, after 7 to 12 years, becomes more fire prone.”
On the opposite side, the plastic industry has gone so far as to establish training programs, whose graphic presentations will emphasize the need for and support of the regulations for mandatory use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) by our firefighters in all fires.
The frustrations of our firefighters are founded in such questions as, “Who is correct?” or “What are the real goals of these ‘experts’ ?”
We say, “Who cares?”
Both sides are performing a great service to the fire departments of our nation. The toxicity issue of fire gases is receiving more and more attention in all areas of public communication. The firefighter is now more familiar with the dangerous aspects of the murderous smoke in which he willingly operates every day. The publicity now divides smoke into its synergistic parts.
On the other side, the value of SCBA use in any toxic atmosphere is reinforced. Training programs largely funded by the plastic industry are about to be distributed throughout our country. They cry out to our firefighters for compliance with a mandatory SCBA policy. The firefighter does not have to be confused by the released information of these two groups. On one side he hears smoke is toxic. On the other side he hears protect yourself at all times. In listening to either statement, he wins.