The silent killer, carcinogens and our gear.

Captain Dillon and Todd HarrisThere’s been a lot of discussions, studies etc lately surrounding the carcinogens we are most likely carrying around in our gear.

“Fire” itself hasn’t changed but the things that are burning today certainly have. It is (and has been) a game changer.

Maybe, without even knowing; we are dragging these cancer causing agents around with us… depositing them everywhere we go. In our rigs, back to the station, in the bunk room beside our bed at nights.

For our volunteer Brothers and Sisters it may be even worse. How about placing them in the trunk of your car… in the back seat of your truck … the places you family will ride in or be around. Think about that for a minute…

We’ve recently heard a lot about de-con and washing our gear. How often do you wash your gear? Once a week or just after a job? Do you wash the liners too? How about your hood …your gloves?

I doubt your Department can afford 2 sets of gear for each member… mine can’t. We’ve actually just formed a committee to look into how to reduce our risk of cancer from these types of exposures. A little over a month ago, we buried my senior Firefighter Todd “Boots” Harris (pictured above on the right). He died of presumptive throat cancer after a long hard fight. He’s not the first member we’ve lost to cancer. I hope he’ll be our last.

More about Todd “Boots” Harris HERE and HERE

viking-titanboothpicI’m not sure what the answer is or if there even is one. What I do know is that we can’t stand by idly waiting on the next member to fall.

We have to start somewhere. Wash your gear once a week. Wash your hood and gloves every Sunday etc.

Rhett (The Fire Critic), Andrew Catron (Model City Firefighter) and I  were lucky enough to have teamed up with the European-based protective clothing manufacturer Viking (link) last year.

These folks are way “ahead of the curve” in many aspects of PPE and I think you should give them a hard look.

They’ve even designed a military style type of turn out gear. What can the military bring to the design of turnout gear? For those who have proudly fought for our country, you’ll be familiar with the smart modular pouches and pockets to combat gear and backpacks to carry various kinds of military accessories.

Using this kind of system as inspiration for turnout gear makes it easy to personalize things the way you like it. If you look at the new jacket design, most of the torso area is covered in webbing ready for modular pockets, so whatever you prefer to have attached is within easy reach…. you’re the boss with this gear.

Another neat thing about the jacket is the elastic material used under the arms, which looks like it’s good for being able to move freely. VIKING has spent some time designing freedom of movement into the jacket  (and the pants ) ….the elbows and knees are pre-bent for example.

More about Viking’s Military style gear HERE

Capt Wines and Goodo Cove Rd working fireHow about weight and heat stress?

What has surprised many researchers is the role that turnout gear plays in causing heat stress. It seems there are studies linking the weight of  turnout gear directly to increased risk of heart attacks. Talking to VIKING Life-saving Equipment’s Scott Miller recently, he told me they’ve been aware of this for many years now and that their European-designed turnout gear is already one of the lightest on the market.

And of course, lightweight gear has the added advantage of giving you maximum freedom of movement which also takes away more of the worry when things are heating up.

In my opinion, lighter clothing, PPE and equipment makes it easier for us to focus on the task at hand instead of becoming frustrated or even endangered by the gear we are wearing. There’s just a greater sense of safety and personal comfort that I wish more manufacturers would pay attention to.

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OK, back to the carcinogen issue…. Viking has a solution for that as well…. Multi-Layered gear!

This gear has an outer layer that can easily be removed by the firefighter after fighting fire. This leaves him or her wearing only the inner lining while wrapping up the scene, taking up and returning to the station. This way, many of the dangerous particles on the outer surface (layer) can be removed from close contact with the firefighter, and are less likely to be transferred to their skin, the inside of vehicles, station etc.

Viking TitanThat outer shell is made in two different materials, the latest generation of PBI® fabric or Hainsworth® TITAN. Both are known for their outstanding protection against heat and flames. Both materials are also extremely strong. You can wash it as often as you need to or like without losing its structure (although you’ll need to impregnate it approx every 30 washes).

VIKING is the only manufacturer in the US to use Hainsworth® TITAN which is a double cloth construction with DuPont™ Nomex® on the face to provide optimal thermal protection, abrasion resistance and color fastness. They also use DuPont™ Kevlar® on the back to provide strength.

On the inside is a CROSSTECH® SR 2 Layer Laminate, which doesn’t lose its high breathability even after exposure to extreme heat conditions.  With the outer shell removed, this layer; continues to protect the wearer from the five most common chemicals, according to 1971 NFPA standard, including blood, bodily fluids and petroleum products.

Again, you should give these folks a look. If you’re going to be at FDIC, you’ll have the perfect chance. The Fire Critic, Model City Firefighter and I will all 3 be in their booth this week!

Find us and VIKING in Booth #1100 @ FDIC

11061682_10152836851292849_306092776150960753_nViking is also helping to sponsor the “Casino Night” at our Friday night party Indy On Fire! 

It’s the hottest ticket in town during FDIC. It’s FREE to attend, in addition; the first 500 to arrive will receive a free drink ticket and Limited Edition Challenge Coin. There’s plenty of free food, music, raffles, 50/50, a photo booth (by TECGEN) and MORE!

Beyond sponsoring the Casino night, Viking has also donated a 2nd Phenix Leather Helmet to be given away!

It’s going to be an EPIC event!!!

So please, visit us in the Viking Booth (#1100) Thursday 1-2pm, Friday 11am-12pm and Saturday 10-11am. Also plan on making it to Indy On Fire Friday night …. we’ll see you there!

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Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines