September 21, 2012--The self-contained breathing apparatus is often the first piece of safety equipment firefighters remove when they have a fire extinguished.
It should be one of the last.
With damaging toxicants often found in fire smoke, firefighters and other first responders may unknowingly be inhaling deadly chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide.
To increase fire smoke awareness, Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre is hosting “Know Your Smoke”, a two-day symposium for firefighters and other first responders. The program will focus on fire smoke awareness, preventing exposure, atmospheric monitoring, and treatment if and when exposure occurs.
Instructing the symposium are Rob Schnepp, special operations chief at Alameda County Fire Department, and Jason Krusen, special operations chief for Columbia Fire Department. Both are members of the Fire Smoke Coalition, a non-profit organization based in the United States. The focus of Fire Smoke Coalition is to teach first responders “how to prevent the disease, illness and death associated with fire smoke.”
Douglas Moeckl, a fire services instructor at Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre, says Lakeland College is the first college in Canada to host a Fire Smoke Coalition conference. The response has been very positive as more than 50 people from throughout Western Canada have already registered for the symposium.
Moeckl has battled leukemia twice. He believes that repeated exposure to fire smoke contributed to his health issues which is one of the reasons why he’s taken a lead role in organizing the symposium.
“Although we do discuss the danger of fire smoke in many of our courses, firefighters aren’t necessarily taking the precautions they should to reduce their risk of exposure. I hope this symposium will bring more awareness to the topic so in the end we will have safer and healthier responders,” he says.
Moeckl also encourages emergency medical services responders to attend so they can learn more about identifying toxic smoke exposure so they can start immediate treatment.
The symposium will be held Oct. 20 and 21 in Vermilion, Alta.
Thanks to the support of RAE Systems, Starfield Lion Protective Clothing and the Alberta Industrial Fire Protection Association, there is no cost to attend the event.
As registration is limited to 100 people, register for “Know Your Smoke” today at www.firesmoke.org
Fire services instructor
Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre
780 581 2020