Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks on Today’s Training Ground

Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks on Today's Fire Training Ground

Examining cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks during fire training scenarios.
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This research examines the cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks during fire training scenarios. The Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) teams reconvene much of the same data collection instrumentation used in the Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risk on Today’s Fireground study, with firefighters responding to training scenarios similar to that utilized to prepare for single family fire responses. Coordinated Attack (suppression and search) in ranch style training structures constructed from concrete and steel materials are utilized with fuels including 1) pallet and straw, 2) pallet and OSB and 3) theatrical smoke with digital (simulated) fire.

“This project studies some of the risks associated with training fires that use traditional wood-based fuel, as well as theatrical smoke and/or engineered wood products and compares this information to data from fires in buildings with typical household furnishings. This study is the first of its kind to scientifically characterize and broadly disseminate the impacts of these environments on both firefighting students and fire instructors during the training and up to three hours after completion. Importantly, we also examine firefighter PPE exposure to products of combustion and the effectiveness of cleaning procedures.”

– Gavin Horn, Research Engineer, FSRI

Funding for this project is provided by Department of Homeland Security, United States Fire Administration-Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program: Fire Prevention and Safety Grant (EMW-2014-FP-00590).


While the fire service has become more aware of the cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks apparent on the fireground, it is also important to study firefighter training environments that may place firefighters at risk for cardiovascular events and cancer. For some firefighters, training fires may represent an important proportion of their live-fire responses. At the same time, changing fuels used in firefighter training (e.g. using engineered wood products such as OSB) must be evaluated to determine their impact on conditions, while the effectiveness of implementing control measures such as gross decon techniques after these events is still to be determined. Many believe that training fires are less hazardous than the fireground, without any supporting data.


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Three papers based on this study have been published to date are included in the resources tab for this study, as well as an online training course. Sign up for alerts about this project or check back frequently as there are more papers on the way.  

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Published: July 30, 2016