The health and safety risks and hazards of firefighting on the men and women that make up the profession is increasingly well studied and documented. Meaningful and sound research has led to changes in individual fitness priorities, personal protective equipment, first responder personnel activities on the fire-ground, and a better understanding of the overall health risks increasingly associated with firefighting.
Cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks from the combustion of common household contents inside modern structures is understood to be very real. However, researchers have yet to be able to recreate the physical environment of a real modern day fire in such a way that meaningful data could be collected and analyzed.
This study, through amazing partnerships and collaboration between the Illinois Fire Service Institute, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Globe Manufacturing Company and U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, has recreated virtually every aspect of firefighting realistically, yet safely and in a way that researchers could capture essential data. Using modern building materials and room contents; employing real firefighters executing commonly employed tactics, techniques, and procedures of entry, search, extinguishment, ventilation and overhaul, this study will enable researchers to truly assess risk.
This study is the logical next step in our refinement of what we know, what we think, and what we suspect. It will inform the next steps in research and more importantly, it will help the firefighting profession better protect its most important resource - the firefighter.