Firefighter PPE is needed at all times when dealing with a car fire

With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, it's a good time to review protocols for PPE regulations when dealing with car hazards and unknowns

Across the country, a lot of excitement hinges on celebrating the birth of America. Fireworks are an integral part of the Fourth of July celebration and many people will buy them for the days before and after the holiday.

In our corresponding video, we see a vehicle packed with fireworks in the trunk, which catches fire. Now the video shows the general public on scene regaling in the explosions, but I want to draw our focus to the dangers that lurk in the trunk of any vehicle, and the importance of us wearing our personal protective equipment (PPE).

Any personal vehicle that is on the road could have many unknown hazards, especially in the trunk.

We cannot see what’s inside the trunk before we open it, and that can be a black hole of mystery for us as we respond to vehicle fires.

Firefighter PPE protects against known and unknown hazards

The importance of wearing our PPE whenever we are fighting a vehicle fire is paramount when we are dealing with unknown hazards inside a vehicle. We have all been educated on the hazards of special metals, such as magnesium or aluminum, and the dangers they present when they are on fire and water is applied to them. We also know the areas in which these metals will be located in as well, but it does not negate our need for personal protection.

In the video, we can see the results of exploding fireworks from the trunk of the vehicle. Even though many bystanders are running up to the vehicle to witness the ordeal, they are not protected and could be struck with a projectile. The same can be said for us as a firefighter; if we were to approach the same vehicle without all of our PPE, we, too, are in the line of fire for any projectiles and the consequences of being struck by them.

Our PPE is designed to protect us without any warning from the hazard or dangers that are lurking around. It protects instantly, constantly and consistently. We have witnessed events where firefighters have been exposed to sudden changes in vehicle fires with exploding metal or other projectiles coming off the vehicle and striking the firefighter in the face or other parts; the results are not pretty.

As small of a vehicle fire as this may be, be sure to wear your PPE as you need to so that you will not be caught off guard when the unexpected occurs.  

This article, originally published on June 27, 2018, has been updated. 

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