IAAI Releases New “How To” Resources Showing Proper PPE Procedures

Now that years of research have established that all fire scenes contain hazardous substances that can cause life-threatening diseases and there is subsequently a renewed focus on reducing cancer in the fire service, a top priority in fire service training is how to prepare for the fire scene and leave it without contaminating yourself or your family. There are factors that can be controlled at the fire scene to make fire investigation healthier and safer for everyone. PPE use is one of them.

As a companion to its flagship health and safety publication, Fire Investigator Health and Safety Best Practices, the IAAI has released two resources that demonstrate key personal protective equipment (PPE) donning, doffing (removal), cleaning, and storage procedures. How well your PPE works — and thus how well it protects you from illness and injury — depends on choosing the correct PPE for the hazards of the scene, putting it on properly, and removing and disposing of it in a way that minimizes your contact with contaminated surfaces. To show you how, the IAAI has released two resources on CFITrainer.Net:

Both resources cover the same content, including recommended PPE ensembles for different situations, demonstrations of proper donning and doffing procedures, and procedures for cleaning, maintaining, and storing PPE. The video version is designed to watch on any device, share with your department, or show to a class. The online learning module version offers the option to earn a tested certificate of completion you can submit to your organization for continuing education credit.

“Mitigating hazards at fire scenes has many components, but wearing PPE is always part of it, particularly respiratory protection because of the hazardous gases and particulates present at every fire scene,” said Robert J. Schaal, CFITrainer.Net Project Manager and IAAI-CFI. “The IAAI felt it was important to show examples of proper PPE and demonstrate procedures for how to put on and take off PPE to ensure proper seals and minimal contact with contaminants because that is critical to preventing acute and long-term illness.”

What to teach for donning and doffing PPE procedures has been discussed many times over the years. The IAAI took the lead to develop PPE principles, recommended ensembles, and don/doff procedures and now has made it possible, with some assistance from a FEMA USFA Fire Prevention & Safety grant, for anyone to see that demonstrated clearly and concisely. Both resources are free and can be viewed in about 20 minutes. Personnel who operate at fire scenes are encouraged to make that time investment to improve your PPE practices that safeguard your health and occupational fitness. Please share the availability of these resources with your organization and colleagues.

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