The Union considers that it is an opportune time now that the summer season is upon us, to remind members of the precautions to take while wearing Structural Firefighting Apparel during hot weather or in high temperature firefighting conditions.

  • Members must be aware of the way in which the Level 2 ensemble protects the wearer from excessive heat conditions.

  • The simplest way to visualize the method of protection is to imagine that the clothing is a sponge and the heat is the water, which a sponge will absorb. As members will be well aware, a sponge will only absorb a certain amount of water before it becomes saturated and is able to absorb no more. The clothing ensemble works in exactly the same way, and the heat is absorbed into the layers of the garment in exactly the same way as the water is absorbed into the sponge. At a certain point in time the clothing will become “saturated” with heat and will be unable to absorb any more. Very soon after this point is reached, the wearer becomes liable to receive burns in exactly the same as if he or she was not wearing any protective clothing.

  • In high heat environments this point can be reached in less than 20 minutes.

  • The only way to allow the clothing to regain its heat absorbing qualities is to withdraw and allow the garments to cool down. This may require the garment to be completely removed from the body and turned inside out.

  • It is absolutely essential that this process take place, as the garment will only regain its heat absorbing properties when it is completely cooled down. This takes as much time as it took to heat the garment up. If it took 30 minutes to heat the garment up, it should ideally be allowed 30 minutes to cool down.

  • This process is only required if the garment has reached “saturation” point, but the thing to remember is that if the garment is not cooled down sufficiently it will reach “saturation” point much quicker if the wearer returns to a high heat environment.

  • It is also essential that after emerging from a high heat or high exertion environment, the wearer allow sufficient time for his or her own body temperature to lower. This is best achieved by removing the helmet and Level 2 jacket and if wearing Lion Apparel turnouts, undo the zip on the trousers. If possible the trousers should also be removed.

  • It is not recommended that multiple Breathing Apparatus “wearings” be considered when either the ambient temperature or the firefighting conditions are such that members require “cool-down time”, unless sufficient resources are available at the incident to allow adequate “cool-down time” before any re-entry.

  • Drink as much water as possible preferably prior to any event, but if this is not possible, then re-hydration after the event is absolutely essential.

  • It is not recommended that “Squincher” or other proprietary brand of electrolyte replacement be utilized as a cordial type drink. It should only be used when dehydration is massive, as if used to excess, it can have an adverse affect on the kidneys.

In summary:

  1. Remember that the garment absorbs heat in the same way a sponge absorbs water

  2. Allow adequate “cool-down time “ before reentry.

  3. Hydrate with cool water rather than ice cold, preferably before an event.

  4. Ensure sufficient resources are available at any incident to allow the needed “cool-down time”

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