Why fighting fire in dresses is bad form

Leaving off any component of protective gear exposes firefighters to short- and long-term risks

We have heard this mantra many times before — always wear your personal protective equipment.

This is repeated for good reason. Firefighter PPE is designed to protect firefighters from many harmful effects or actions that may fall their way — and the rule is not followed 100 percent of the time.

When firefighters meet a situation where they need their PPE to protect them, it is not a scheduled event. Other than training scenarios, these are surprise or unexpected events. These events won't allow you to call a time out to clasp your helmet's chin strap or lower your face shield.

It's when we do not wear our PPE, that we succumb to the affects of what we have been exposed to. Perhaps it is an eye injury, a laceration, a burn or inhaling a substance that is harmful to our bodies.

We all hate the bunker cop ISO or officer who is constantly patrolling our every move when it comes to wearing PPE. But this person ensures that the PPE is being worn and worn in the right way.

The below video is both humorous and an example of not wearing the appropriate or required PPE. In this popular video from 2012, there is certainly a reason behind why the firefighters are not wearing the proper PPE — they were en route to a parade when the fire broke out.

But, they are still not wearing the proper PPE to handle with the situation dealt to them.

Dress for success
We have witnessed other videos or real life situations where a simple vehicle fire becomes a bigger situation to deal with. Water coming into contact with magnesium is one of those situations where a simple vehicle fire becomes a bigger situation for the firefighters.

Is this a simple vehicle fire? Perhaps we can say yes to this question, but in reality it is not.

What is being produced by this simple fire? Radiant heat, unburned products of combustion and toxic smoke from both the vehicle's interior materials as well as whatever else may be in the vehicle.

Looking at this from a health and safety perspective, labor laws were written to prevent this from occurring and to provide a blanket of protection for the worker.

The domino effect here is not just the immediate threat from something like a burn, coughing from inhalation or irritating eyes from the smoke. Rather, it is also a long-term threat from the exposure to the toxic smoke, the unburned products of combustion coming in contact with our respiratory and other bodily systems.

And those long-term effects from this exposure lead to increased risk for a variety of cancers, heart disease and other illnesses that shorten life and reduce its quality.

No matter what the circumstances or what the situation may be, always wear full PPE. Use this video to discuss how these firefighters could have made both a timely and a safe fire attack.

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