April 18, 2022 By Todd Herring
The area around your jaw, face, and neck is the most vulnerable spot when exposed to fireground contaminants from soot and smoke. Standard FR knit hoods protect you from heat and flames, but in recent years, improvements to firefighter hood designs have led to advanced particulate blocking protection.
It’s important that all fire departments become educated on the importance of particulate blocking hood technology for the health and safety of their crew members.
There are several reasons firefighters may consider particulate blocking hoods. As has become much discussed and accepted, firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the general public. Research from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), as a firefighter, you have a nine per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer compared to the general U.S. population.
A particulate blocking hood can keep up to 99 per cent of contaminants at bay. Particulate blocking hoods act as a filter to reduce exposure to persistent fireground carcinogens and other toxins. With innovative particulate blocking technology, these hoods can block particulates at 0.2 microns in size or larger. Consider this: there are approximately 25,400 microns in one inch, and a human hair is about 75-100 microns wide, so a 0.2-micron particulate is about 500 times smaller than a strand of hair. The FAST Test Report demonstrated that particles at 2.5-micron size penetrated a standard FR knit hood and left a concentrated, heavy deposit on the participant’s neck, cheeks, ears, and jaw.
With fire fighting, many unpredictable elements come with responding to a call. Taking the time to research and find the right solution that will keep your crew safest on the fireground for years to come is crucial. Today, firefighting PPE manufacturers continue to look at fire gear as a way to reduce your chances of succumbing to heat stress and exposure to carcinogens. •
Todd Herring is the vice-president of product innovation and strategy for Fire-Dex.
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