I have read a lot of information from around the country in regards to departments beginning a program to monitor the air quality during interior firefighting operations, especially during overhaul, and requiring their members to keep on air until these quality checks come back negative for CO and other harmful gases. I am interested in beginning this for our department as well being we have nothing set up as far as when you can come off air, and I see members going in to the building with packs on, but mask dangling at their waist's while their is still active fire. Overhaul is a joke...practically no one wears their packs and it concerns me with all of the press regarding firefighters and cancer rates, as well as respiratory illness...its staggering and unbelievable to think that we still refuse to wear our packs during overhaul. Is it the "Macho" thing??
My question is; does anyone have an SOP already in place that I could review, to get some ideas of how we can write one custom for our needs? Does anyone have any additional information you could share as far as statistics, actuall experience's, or case studies involving respiratory illness and cancer being attributed to being exposed to these gases during overhaul stages? Basically, anything I can use as ammunition when I go to our next officers meeting and begin the process of starting some kind of program for our department.
Another question is; should we even write an SOP right away or just use actuall real time experiences to guide the process and judge what we would need as far as the SOP, and just use our new 4-gas meter to assess air quality and not allow anyone to enter without pack?
Any input would be greatly appreciated, I am not afraid to admit when I do not know enough about a topic and ask for help and advice from others who might know more then me.
Thanks in advance and stay safe.
I realize this is an older thread, but actually a good *bump* was made to bring it back. I would also like to echo Scott Duffney's comments of: "I would recommend obtaining a single gas monitor to complement your 4-gas monitor so you can monitor HCN levels as well. The symptoms of CO and HCN poisoning are very similar, but the diagnosis and treatment are worlds apart, often resulting in ineffective treatment for CO when HCN is the offending component."
HCN effects, studies, and monitoring has been increasing in the fire service and more often than not, depts don't carry a detector for HCN. Most 4 gas meters tend to have O2, CO, LEL, and typically H2S. However, in a fire HCN can be just as present as CO and deadlier, since the limits for HCN are much lower than CO. Another consideration is the amount of HCN present from just natural combustibles like straw etc, so something to consider for training burns.
So as to the topic at hand. Like most of you here, the dept I'm affiliated with would monitor with a 4 gas, essentially looking at CO before going off of air. We recently had a new fire chief appointed and he is quite passionate in being aware of HCN and the effects of HCN that the dept is undergoing a significant approach to addressing this. Training has just started this week and the SOG drafted will go into effect at the end of training for the dept. Along with an SOG and policy the dept recently received 5 new single gas HCN monitors, these are Tox-RAE meter. We will have a meter on two frontline trucks, the Batt chief vehicle and one for the Fire Marshal.
Essentially the SOG reads that crews will remain on air until CO is 35ppm or less and HCN reads 5ppm.
A monitor will remain with the Fire Marshal and they may have to investigate a fire while on air if the meter starts reading while sifting through debris.
Personnel will be expected to wash their turnouts as soon as possible after a significant fire.
Apparatus,seating positions, and SCBAs will be thoroughly cleaned after a fire incident
From an EMS standpoint, we will be receiving several CYANOkits to treat FFs or victims that have significant smoke inhalation. Since the kits are expensive and have a limited shelf life, we are looking at about 5 for the dept and carried on a chief car. So if a victim is taken to a hospital the chief car can get there with the kits (the hospitals do not stock these). To help alleviate costs several more kits will be ordered through the MABAS division where if needed, again a chief car can deliver the kit as needed. Essentially the CYANO kit is the antidote for HCN exposure and the body converts it to Vitamin B12 so there are no contraindications to give to a person. Studies out there denote increased survivability after smoke exposure and the chief states on his last dept they had a 70 y/o victim removed from a fire, was PNB, and walked out of the hospital a week later after given the kit.