Field Decontamination Methods

Northwell Health-FASNY Firefighter Cancer Study

How can exposed gear spread contaminants?

Watch this video published by Women Firefighters and Health to see how potentially hazardous contaminants could pollute PPE’s, engines and trucks, the apparatus floor and living quarters.

Why should you decontaminate?

It is extremely important to be proactive to protect yourself, your fellow firefighters, and your family from unnecessary harm. If contaminants are not removed immediately following a fire, they could be ingested, released into the air, penetrate skin, or be spread, resulting in repeated exposure.

NIOSH recently published a study on contamination of firefighters’ PPE and the effectiveness of different decontamination procedures. Toxic substances on turnout jackets, helmets and skin were sampled from firefighters doing different job assignments at fires. The most effective decontamination procedure was “wet” field decontamination using dish soap, water, and scrubbing, which reduced PAH contamination on turnout jackets on average 85%. Cleansing wipes were also effective, reducing PAH contamination on neck skin by 54%. Further research on these methods is ongoing.

Watch this video from the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority to learn how to decontaminate your gear after a call:

Take action to prevent cancer!

Decontaminating your gear after a fire call can reduce the spread of contaminants and better protect you, your fellow firefighters, your families, and anyone who might come into contact with your gear or rigs!