Hey all, we got paged to a hay bail fire in a barn, we arrived on scene to find the arched metal barn in good shape structurally, however there were about 70 round bales inside that had a pretty good jump on us. We decided against sending a crew in for interior because the risk just wasnt worth it in this case. Fast forward to the end of the scene, it's been 5 hours of dragging hose, breathing in thick smoke and full structural gear because my volunteer fire dept doesnt have wildland gear. I got home and had possibly the worst headache I've ever had I attributed it to having my helet on for 5 hours. I've been on other scenes and had my helmet on for an extended period of time, however the headache has never been this bad before. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for helping prevent my headache next time were on scene for an extended period of time? Also has anyone else had this or am I an isolated person that should consider a new career? :(

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Why didn't dehydration jump immediately to my mind? Dehydration = headaches.
Well for starters you might have kept tightening the ratchet as you were sweating your butt off and felt the helmet shift now and then thats a major cause your basically squeezing your circulation off and bearing on those head muscles . A few things might help is loosen your ratchet and cinch up that chin strap, think a little rash or abrasion on the chin beats a pounding migraine, also try a wet bandana or make sure hoods on, only other choice is anytime you go from the building to the truck be it a drink or a tool unless your in a rush now and then take it off shake out your hair rub the scalp and put it back on when you absolutely have to..
I haven't read the other replies to this post yet but . . .
Why were you breathing the smoke for 5 hrs? Because it wasn't an interior attack doesn't mean you don't need SCBA. What about a respirator or paper mask?

The answer to your headache is very likely smoke inhailation, dehydration, possibly hypoglycemia (low sugar level) and fatigue, not your helmet. 5 hrs is a long time to work in PPE.
Was rehab available? A place where you can sit, rest, cool down, get a drink & a snack?

Dehydration sucks minerals out of your body that you need to function besides sodium and potassium, magnezium, zinc, folic acid that an imbalance could cause even more fatigue & other symptoms like muscle spasms & headaches.

Your helmet "might" contribute to a headache if it doesn't fit properly OR if you wear if for 5 hrs. Were you wearing a hood? If you were, the pressure of the elastic around your face could also cause a headache. Five hours of engines running, pumps whining & exhaust fumes can cause anybody to have a headache. In trying to keep the smoke out of your mouth, you probably clenched your teeth which could also cause a headache. Eye irritation will cause a headache. Your body tries to defend itself from all that dirty air you were breathing in so your immune system was probably working overtime to block the contaminants in the air from going through your upper respritory system.
Firefighters often experience sinus infections & bronchitis after breathing all that crap you don't have to breath.

Add all these factors together & I would be surprised if you didn't have 1 helluva headache.
Well, on a reality note very few depts would be wearing scba for a fire like this on exterior ops unless you were really in the smoke. I agree it was the smoke and not the helmet, but my thought would be if you are writing the barn off move back set up master streams and use unmanned monitors. If the smoke was that bad and all else fails to stay away from the smoke - or use the scba. If your gear and or helmet was affecting you that much rehab operations were ineffective and need to be improved for the next extended operation you encounter.
Right on, I think its the smoke too.
Hey Alex, as smoke eater (in my country SCBA is very expensive - so we don't wear one). All the reply posts here is really true. Your case is not isolated. It happens to everyone here especially exposed to smoke inhalation, exhaustion, fatigue and etc. I too had headache after operation like that. For sure its not the helmet.

As Jenny would advise. Don't push it too hard. REST.... rehydrate, take off your helmet and gear and cool down. In our place we don't have rehab unit. But we are oriented that when we tired, we don't push it too hard. We take turns in firefighting. It's like playing basketball or foot ball, sometimes you have to time out - take the bench and rest.

And enjoy drinking cool aid. Then if your ready you can go back in.
Wow I can't believe I am reading that something might be in the hay or CO from some of you.....

5 hours of breathing in smoke is your problem. Was the arched metal structure made of galvanized aluminum or steel? Did it have galvanized roof panels? Not many are made of just raw steel because they rust so fast.

So where is all of our hazmat guys who should be chimming in on this discussion?

When you heat up, weld, or melt galvie it is BAD SHIT that causes headaches, naseau, vomiting etc. If this was the case with your fire and structure's construction, you were in reality POISONED by poor Command Tactics and lack of a compotent Safety Officer.

It is a Zinc oxide coated metal...

Typical “metal fume fever” begins about 4 hours after exposure, and full recovery occurs within 48 hours. The symptoms include fever, chills, thirst, headache and nausea. All of these symptoms, pain and suffering, as well as lost work (and play) time, can be avoided entirely by simply not inhaling the zinc oxide fumes. This can easily be done wearing a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus.

I've ran Hazmat incidents where workers were cutting galvanized metal studs in a school in which the students/faculty were exposed with symptoms...

Michael, I didn't say anything about a REHAB UNIT. I asked if there was a place to sit, cool down, rest & get a drink and a snack. None of which requires a "unit". All it does require is a piece of ground away form the smoke & heat, a cooler of water, a bag of crackers. Rehab doesn't have to be high tech but it needs to BE there.
I didn't even think about the fire aspect when I replied to the problem of a headache. Its a metal building. I would be doing some cooling around the outside and probably set up some big water guns on the inside although if you don't do something very quickly, the whole thing is just going to melt.
You don't have any SCBA? It isn't exactly "cheap" here but it is better than the alternative, firefighters dying.
* 400 ppm (0.04%) Frontal headache within one to two hours

I think I'm in that area sometimes, I hate frontal headaches.
Who cares if it falls over or melts, it's a lose anyways.

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