Station Pride Articles

The Next Step In Forestry Firefighting

This week, several outlets have announced the newest, safest and most innovative recommendations for firefighter safety in the wilderness setting. After years of studies and collaborative efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have announced minimum standards that will be required for future federal grant funding.

src.adapt.960.high.inmate_firefighters_101013.1406639924210One topic of discussion that was discussed at last week’s seminar, held in Southern California (SoCal) with Cal-OSHA in attendance, was the usage of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) in the wildland setting. The venue almost seemed uncanny as it is known as the “Home To Several of America’s Most Dangerous Wilderness Firefights.”

Firefighters across the region have been extinguishing these types of fires for many years, and studies have discovered that wildland firefighters are now contracting the same type of malignancies as structural firefighters. Cancer-causing combustibles have been found 103e14e5be23d397d7aebbda852323a3within the burn areas of several wildland fires, especially since more exposures have been subjected to ignition than in previous years. Among those exposures, 95% of them were either SLICERed or DICERed. Which makes forestry firefighting nearly equivalent to structural firefighting. “Whether standing on the front lawn or fighting the valleys of California, we are all the same, so why not treat the dangers the same?” asked Rich Weiner, head of research & delivery at the University of California.

SCBA usage will become more of the norm in future years whether we are willing to accept change. As studies and the newest publications of IFSTA have shown, firefighters will continue to apply more emphasis on OUR own safety, rather than the safety of others.

Cancer has been a known hazard for years. Manufacturers are currently constructing new prototypes for a slimmer, more lightweight version of structural SCBA’s to accommodate for the smaller spaces that are found within the cabs of today’s brush apparatus. Recommendations have also been made but were tabled for the next seminar at FDIC in April, to have a slimmer, agile facemask that can be remembered as an acronym. This recommendation comes straight from IFSTA, as it was noted to “Keep it simple and understandable for firefighters to remember.”weenie-flatpack-backrightside-lg

Other sources have stated that OSHA will be meeting with senior executive research analysts to establish a “baseline respiratory protection factor across the entire fire service, as a whole.” OSHA has acknowledged the introduction of synthetic material to most burn areas, whether it be small rubbish fires in outdoor spaces or large, wildland fires that extend for acres or hundreds of acres. Recent studies have shown smoke conditions above outside fires are 65% more hazardous in 2014-2015 than ever before. It is unknown what the main source of hazardous chemicals are, but it is being conspired that it is from the “synthetics that are illegally dumped or placed by human factors”.

Along with wildland SCBA requirements, air monitoring conducted by 3rd party organization or state OSHA rep, not attached to the fire department, will also be required to ensure a safe working atmosphere for all firefighters.

Since the old “War Days” are behind us, so are the days of using natural fabrics and materials in our forest fires. Synthetics are plaguing our fire service, and the only way we know how to fight it is to remove ourselves completely from its greedy fingers. By removing ourselves from the harm of cancer, we are maintaining firefighter longevity and keeping the insurance claims adjustors happy. Perfect.
Fellow F.O.O.L.S.,

If you get what I’m saying, leave a comment. And be sure to share this information with your friends.


About Ron Givens (15 Articles)
Ron Givens is a 5th generation firefighter with 14 years on the job. Ron started as a Jr. Firefighter in Union Beach, NJ in 2002 before relocating. Ron currently holds the rank of Engineer/Paramedic with the South Trail Fire District in Ft. Myers, Fl. Ron is also a Division Chief with the Upper Captiva Fire Department on North Captiva Island. Ron is a Fire Officer I, Instructor 2, Live Fire Instructor, and holds an A.S. Degree in Fire Science from Edison State College. Ron is a proud member of the Florida Gulf Coast F.O.O.L.S and IAFF Local 1826. Ron co-founded the fire training page entitled “Shut Up And Train” (SUAT), and looks forward to sharing his knowledge and experience with others on Station-Pride. EBGH – RFB – FTM – DTRT

1 Comment on The Next Step In Forestry Firefighting

  1. Better respiratory protection for wildfire fighters is certainly needed.
    Much research around the world has established that woodsmoke is a direct cause of heart attacks which happen to be the greatest cause of death for wildfire fighters worldwide. Plus of course there is the other matter of cancers with stomach cancers being the most common for firefighters. Probably a result of smoke being ingested and swallowed.
    Now that cigarette smoking is seen as a huge danger to health there seems to be a greater awareness of the need for respiratory protection.
    A rural firefighter in Australia (me) realised this about ten years ago and started to develop what is now the Fair Air fire mask.
    The Fair Air fire mask is an Australian invention which provides high level of respiratory protection for wildfire fighters plus is also highly fire resistant being the only respirator certified to ISO 9151 and ISO 15025 which are international standards for protective clothing for protection against heat and flame.
    It has a revolutionary filter contained in a soft facepiece that doesn’t interfere with speech.
    As the filters are also washable and reusable (at least ten times each) they are incredibly cost effective. A set with two filters (providing an immediate spare) is less than US$50.
    About 700 brigades all over Australia plus others in New Zealand, Canada and a few in USA are now using this mask.
    see for more info.
    There is a reseller in Canada (Firefox Fire Solutions Inc in Edmonton, Alberta) and shortly there will be a distributor in the USA too.


Thanks for leaving a comment on!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: