The NZPFU has received reports that Senior/Station Officers are getting pushback from management when insisting on decontamination processes.
Structure fires contain a cocktail of carcinogens that are inhaled and absorbed through the skin.
Firefighters can never be fully protected but there are significant steps that can be taken to minimise exposure and to reduce the rate of absorption of toxins and carcinogens.
It has been scientifically proven that skin absorption varies with anatomic region and increases with temperature. The rate of absorption can be mitigated by washing and lowering the body temperature as soon as possible post fire – shower within the hour!
If it is not possible to release crews to return to station to shower within the hour of firefighting, then decontamination units should be deployed to the fire ground to ensure firefighters can mitigate their exposures.
A critical issue is the inadequate hoods that have not been reviewed for more than 10 years and are not designed to reduce carcinogenic absorption. Trainers at the National Training Centre are informally trialling new hoods. Even in recent months there has been further developments in the fabric and designs to reduce carcinogenic absorption.
For firefighters this is the quality and quantity of your lives. The hoods are a priority and we hope to make progress in the very near future.