Gordon Graham on PPE decontamination procedures

In this video, Graham emphasizes the importance of decontamination following an incident to protect the health and wellness of the crew

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire service personnel, and we’re talking about the importance of decontaminating your PPE decon procedures.

Remember the last fire you went to? Did your PPE end up covered in building material, soot, and ash? If so, your PPE also absorbed smoke and gasses. Now, did you properly decon your gear and exposed skin before you went to rehab, climbed back in the rig, or put your gear in the trunk of your car?

Decon procedures play an essential part in reducing cancer and maintaining the integrity of PPE. Plus, they help keep the rig’s cab much cleaner and safer for everyone.

What are your department’s decon procedures for personnel engaged in firefighting? Do you have one? If not, one needs to be developed. In the meantime, here’s a few things you can do to limit your exposure and begin the decon process.

First, make sure to clean off your hands and face before grabbing a snack or a drink in rehab. The body is exposed to carcinogens through inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion. If you don’t wash your hands, guess what? You’re giving those contaminants a chance to get into your body through ingestion.

Here’s another thought. Put a small kit on the rig. A simple 5-gallon bucket with a couple of wheel brushes and some dish soap is a great start. When you come out of a fire, brush the big stuff off and then rinse your gear down. Give it a once over with a soapy brush and rinse again. Do that while you’re still outside to avoid inhaling anything that becomes airborne.

If possible, bag-up your gear for the ride back to the station. Many companies make bags specifically for this purpose. Or use those big contractor trash bags to provide some protection. That’s much better than leaving your dirty gear in the cab or in your trunk to off-gas and contaminate everything.

Education, training, and prevention are all essential factors in comprehensive, effective decon. You never lose by proactively working to keep your crew safe.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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