The number of firefighters diagnosed with cancer is rising at an alarming rate, so its of utmost importance that you should keep yourself, your team and your department safe from any personal health issues that might arise as direct result of the job. The best way of doing this is through decon procedures or decontamination procedures, these procedures are an easy and very effective way of protecting yourself and your team from the harmful carcinogens found in the equipment, gear, fire trucks, and even the station.
This decontamination procedure requires the use of special equipment and tools required to aid firefighters in decontamination of themselves, their gear and the site.
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The decon equipment and products work well in getting rid of the harmful particles. Priority and care is given to the firefighters themselves as they are the ones who receive the largest amount of exposure on the fire scene.
It is an important standard operating procedure that firefighters should always decontaminate themselves prior to leaving the fire scene. An example of the decontamination procedures that firefighters perform include getting rid of any harmful particles on their turnout gear, their PPE, and FR clothing; and any residue on their skin or dermal areas. To help with decontamination on site, firefighters are issued decontamination kits and refill supplies. The decontamination kits usually contain decon gear and equipment and personal decontamination products such as turnout gear, FR clothing, and PPE cleaning products and sprays as well as decontamination wipes, decon field wipes and etc.
The average baby wipes found in supermarkets and grocery stores can get the job done when dealing with soot and dirt, it won’t work on metals however as metals stick to your skin like nails on a board, so you can’t clean it down no matter how hard you rub and scrub as it sticks in a different fashion as opposed to germs and dirt. Intense burning of materials in the fire scene have the tendency of releasing heavy metal oxides that are virtually invisible to the naked eye such as the heating of stainless steel, ceramics, anti-corrosion coatings and chrome will release hexavalent chromium; and burning paint, carpets, and other household items and decorations will release lead oxide. Companies such as Hygenall manufactures products such as soaps, surface cleaners and baby wipe like products that are designed to clean soot and as well as more than 99% all of those metal oxides as well as other metals such as mercury, nickel, copper, arsenic and etc.
You can see this website if you want to find out more about these decontamination products.