Protecting Firefighters from Smoke, Heat, and Harmful Protection
If you work in the fire fighting industry, you know how important full particulate hood protection is and how important it is to protect yourself from the dangers of smoke, heat, and flames. But did you know that your protective gear and hood can also expose you to harmful particulates that can cause cancer and other diseases.
That’s why the NFPA has issued a new mandate for full particulate-hood protection, which will take effect in 2024. The new standard, NFPA 1970, requires that all protective hoods for structural fire fighting have a minimum particulate filtration efficiency of 90%. This means that only 10% or less of the particles can pass through the hood material. North Carolina State University began a collaborative research project in 2016 under a Department of Homeland Security FEMA grant to examine several attributes of hoods, including their overall thermal insulation, impact on heat stress, durability, and, most importantly, their ability to reduce exposure to harmful fire ground soot particles.
Consolidation of NFPA 1971 into NFPA 1970: A New Standard for Firefighter Protective Gear
The upcoming NFPA mandate is a consolidation of several different NFPA mandates. All the required information found in NFPA 1971 will be consolidated with NFPA 1975, NFPA 1981, and NFPA 1982 to create a new document recognized by the fire industry as NFPA 1970, titled “Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting; Emergency Services Work Apparel; Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services; Respirators for Wildland Fire Fighting Operations; Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS); Breathing Air Quality for Emergency Services Respiratory Protection”.
Benefits of Fire Hoods
Why do you need a particulate-blocking hood?
According to a draft report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. One of the main sources of exposure to carcinogens is the skin, especially the neck and face areas, which are not fully covered by the standard ensembles for structural firefighting. By using a particulate-blocking layer, fire hoods effectively mitigate the risks of carcinogenic particulate contamination while maintaining air permeability.
How do particulate blocking hoods work?
Particulate blocking hoods use a combination of different fabrics and layers to create a barrier against particulates. Some hood designs use a sandwich-like structure, with an outer layer of particulate-blocking material between two layers of thermally protective material inside layer two. Other hood designs use a single layer of fabric that has both thermal protection and particulate blocking capabilities.
The particulate barrier coverage can be made of different fibers, such as carbon, aramid, or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). These fibers have very small pores that allow air and moisture to pass through but block larger particles. The thermal protective material can be made of natural materials or synthetic fibers, such as cotton, wool, or Nomex. These fibers provide insulation, thermal resistance, and flame resistance.
The most protective fire hoods include a particulate blocking layer that blocks carcinogenic particulates 0.1 µm to 1.0 µm that are found in the combustion of structural fires by greater than 99.9% even after 100 washes.
Advantages of Wearing Particulate Protection:
Particulate-blocking hoods offer several advantages over traditional hoods. They can reduce your exposure to carcinogens and other toxins by up to 99%.
Provide better comfort and breathability by allowing air and moisture to escape.
Maintain their performance after multiple washes and uses.
Fit well with your helmet and mask without compromising your vision or mobility.
As NFPA 1971 becomes consolidated into NFPA 1970 alongside other relevant standards, the fire industry is taking a vital step towards enhancing emergency responder safety and minimizing the long-term health risks associated with firefighting. This mandate underscores the commitment to protecting those who put their lives on the line to protect others and serves as a testament to the continuous improvement of protective clothing and gear for those on the front lines of emergency response.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for NFPA’s Mandate for Full Particulate-Hood Protection:
Q: What is the new NFPA mandate for full particulate-hood protection, and when does it take effect?
A: The new NFPA mandate for full particulate-hood protection, outlined in NFPA 1971, requires that all protective hoods used in structural firefighting have a minimum particulate filtration efficiency of 90%. This means that only 10% or less of particles can pass through the hood material. This mandate will take effect in 2024.
Q: Why do firefighters need particulate-blocking hoods, and what risks do they address?
A: Firefighters need particulate-blocking hoods to reduce their exposure to harmful carcinogens and other toxins present in smoke and soot. According to a draft report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.
Q: How often should firefighters replace their full particulate-hoods?
A: The frequency of replacing full particulate-hoods may vary depending on several factors, including the manufacturer’s recommendations, the frequency of use, and the condition of the hood. It is generally recommended that firefighters replace their hoods at least once every 12 months or as per the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure optimal protection .