Post-fire Chemical Exposure Risks to Fire Investigators

Post-Fire Chemical Exposure Risks to Fire Investigators

Examining post-fire chemical exposures from one hour to five days after suppression.

Overview

This research study evaluates post-fire chemical exposure risks to fire investigators so that data-driven decisions can be made about personal protective equipment ensemble, policy and other contamination control measures for extended periods of time after a fire.

The International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, Office of Fire Prevention and Control all partner in this effort and help translate findings to policy recommendations.

Context

“The risk of occupational exposures for structural firefighters has been studied in recent years, yet potential risk for fire investigators is not as well understood. Fire Investigators are often on scene for an extended duration, which may range from immediately after fire suppression to many days after the fire is put out. Inconsistent use of PPE and other control measures among fire investigators may potentially increase their susceptibility to fireground chemical exposures.”

– Gavin Horn, Research Engineer, FSRI

Objectives

To improve the health and safety of fire investigators by furthering understanding of the risk for solid phase and vapor phase chemical exposures at the post-fire scene. These experiments characterize air-borne contaminants that may be encountered while investigating a residential fire scene and how characteristics of these contaminants may evolve in the days following the fire, from within an hour after fire extinguishment (‘Hot Scene B’) to between one and three days after a fire (‘Warm Scene’) to five days after the fire (‘Cold scene’).

“The time exposed and lack of protection could result in exposures that may be higher than with structural firefighters, who are protected with SCBA and full turnouts. This study provides a means to characterize and quantify gas phase and particulate exposures that may be encountered while investigating fires involving kitchens, family rooms and bedrooms.”

– Daniel Madrzykowski, Director of Research, FSRI

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Research Partners