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2017 Topics

General Session Presentations

A Common Sense Approach to Battle Firefighter Cancer and PPE Issues by Keith Tyson, Firefighter Cancer Support Network


This will be an interactive session reviewing the alarming cancer statistics. Included will be a powerful video illustrating the potential extension of chemicals and carcinogens from the fire scene to the members, the rigs, stations, and even potentially the home environment and family members. Additionally, gross decontamination, use of wipes, and locations of PPE storage will all be discussed to mitigate the risks.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Cleaning Procedures for Fire Fighting Protective Clothing by Jeff Stull, International Personnel Protection


How clean is clean? Background will be provided on contamination levels in clothing and hazards of continued chemical or biological exposure to uncleaned clothing. Research findings will be presented from the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation project for developing procedures to assess the effectiveness of cleaning procedures for removing harmful contaminants and providing insight on successful approaches and processes that demonstrate the greatest efficiencies. Other findings will be presented for best practices for care and cleaning of fire fighting protective clothing and recommendations for changes to NFPA 1851.

Critical PPE Lessons from the IFSI Cardiovascular & Chemical Exposure Risk Studies by Dr. Gavin Horn, IFSI Research at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute


Cancer is the primary chronic health concern associated with fire fighting. Sudden cardiac events are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the Fire Service and a primary acute health concern. In a recent project between IFSI Research, UL FSRI and NIOSH, a deeper understanding on the cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks associated with fire fighting activities has been gained. This presentation will review the critical results from those efforts with a focus on the impact of PPE on fire fighters operating in different roles on the fire ground. Also, there will be a discussion on policy implementation as well as a means to reduce exposure to these risks.

Effect of Repeat Thermal Exposures on SCBA Facepiece Properties by Richard Kesler, IFSI Research at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute


The SCBA facepiece is one of the most critical components of the fire fighters’ PPE. This presentation will discuss a study conducted by IFSI Research examining the effects of repeat radiant exposures of the properties of the SCBA facepiece. The research exposed facepiece lenses to various thermal loads (heat flux levels and duration) and examined the effect on mechanical properties (tensile strength and response to impact). Attendees will learn how to quickly examine the SCBA facepiece for signs of thermal damage not visible to the naked eye.

Healthy In, Healthy Out – Best Practices for Reducing Exposures to Carcinogens by Captain Beth Gallup, Kent Regional Fire Authority


Cancer is now the leading cause of death in professional fire fighters. Steps must be taken now to reduce the number of fire fighters being diagnosed and dying every year. Safe and healthy practices must be encouraged from Day 1 to Retirement. These best practices include: equipment, guidelines, and common sense practices to reduce exposures. This presentation is built on the IMS format. Finance will identify funding sources and learn how to budget for implementation. Operations is the biggest component including gross decontamination, washing on scene, and transporting contaminated PPE. Planning addresses how station design and maintenance can improve safety. Logistics will deal with housekeeping, cleaning PPE, hose and equipment. The importance of wellness, annual physicals, and documenting exposures will also be tackled. Command includes the importance of the Safety Officer in reducing risks.

OSHA – Changes are Coming by Chief Bruce Varner, BHVarner and Associates, and Karl Beeman, Instructor for the OSHA Training Institute EC at Chabot Las Positas/Consultant


Why should you be concerned and involved? For the past couple of years, OSHA has been working in revising and developing new regulations for emergency first responders. This presentation will inform attendees on how OSHA regulations are relevant to PPE Selection, Care and Cleaning. There will be an explanation between the relationship of OSHA regulations and NFPA standards. Attendees will also gain a better understanding of how OSHA may affect fire departments.

PPE in the Future: Where Do We Go? by Larry Petrick, Jr., International Association of FireFighters


This presentation will review the current issues regarding structural PPE. While cancer prevention is the hot topic concerning PPE, cardiovascular and thermal stress are also continuing concerns. Any new research and development should focus on the aggregate of these issues to develop a next generation PPE. The physiological health of the fire fighter should be the utmost concern while balancing in the protections factors within the design of PPE.

Revolutionary Turnout Suit Designs for the Modern Fire Fighter by Dr. Meredith McQuerry, Florida State University/N.C. State University (TPACC)


Project outcomes from the FEMA/DHS AFG grant sponsored "Revolutionary Modern Turnout Suit" project will be presented. Practical outcomes will be discussed, such as the importance of considering THL along with TPP, when selecting structural turnout gear. The impact on comfort/THL when incorporating ventilation openings, stretch materials, and modular options will be presented. Significant improvements were measured when turnout suits with reduced layers, vents and modularity were evaluated in human subject wear trials. Results from this research have practical implications for fire fighters when selecting turnout suits, as well as, for manufacturers who will gain a better understanding regarding which innovations were successful or not beneficial.

SCBA Update and Fire Fighter Culture by Lieutenant Dan Rossos, Portland Fire & Rescue (ret.)


Lieutenant Rossos will give an update on the proposed changes to NFPA 1981: Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services. As chair of the NFPA Technical Committee on Respiratory Protection Equipment, he will describe how face masks (especially the lens) are being destroyed in fires. Most fire fighters do not understand what is happening and Lieutenant Rossos will attempt to explain this. He will also discuss interoperable "buddy breathers", SCBA data logging. and the Fire Service culture regarding SCBA use.

Thermal Imagers, PASS Devices, and 2-Way Radios – NFPA Electronic Safety Equipment by Bob Athanas, Firefighter-FDNY and President - SAFE-IR


This presentation will be an update on the following NFPA standards:

  • NFPA 1801—Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service
  • NFPA 1982—Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)
  • NFPA 1982—Standard on Personal Portable (Hand-Held) Two-Way Radio Communications Devices for Use by Emergency Services Personnel in the Hazard Zone (proposed)

Attendees will gain a better understanding of these three standards and what actually drives these standards. Also, attendees will understand that participation from the fire service in developing these standards is critical.

What’s the Risk? Risk Assessment and the PPE Selection Process by Deputy Commissioner Henry Costco (ret.)


The selection of jurisdictionally appropriate PPE ranks among the most critical decisions that a fire department will make in its efforts to enhance and ensure the safety of its responders. Furthermore, the research, development testing, certification, production, and selection processes for all elements of fire fighting PPE ensembles are complex and highly technical at every stage of their production chains. Given the profoundly sophisticated nature of our turnout gear and the critical role it plays in protecting fire fighters while they operate, it is essential that a department’s specification and selection processes be deliberate, considered, and comprehensive.

Functional Track

A Fire Fighter’s Guide to Test Methods for Fire Fighting by Battalion Chief Safety Command Dan Melia, FDNY (ret.) and Driver-Operator/Paramedic Tim Tomlinson, Addison Fire Department


The next revision of NFPA 1971 will have an entirely new annex that explains all the complicated test methods included in the standard. The test methods that are in the main body of the standard are written to outline the procedures used by laboratory technicians. The terminology is not easily understood by those outside the laboratory environment. The new annex will be written and illustrated in a manner that fire fighters can easily understand. This presentation will describe this annex and how fire fighters can use it as a resource. A brief explanation of many of the tests required to make structural fire fighting PPE will be presented.

Developing the Culture of Cancer Risk Reduction Behaviors at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue by Assistant Chief Mark Havener, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue


This presentation will attempt to convey the experience that TVF&R has had over a period of time in changing the culture regarding cancer risk reduction behaviors. Our hope is that our lessons learned can be used by other agencies to help reduce or eliminate cancer in the firefighting profession.

TVF&R developed our culture over time.

In 2011 TVF&R completed a project called the Fire Gas study where we demonstrated that CO or HCn monitoring were not good indicators of when to go off SCBA air for overhaul operations. Over a period of time we monitored a wide array of fire gases at 38 fires and had some remarkable findings.

One of the findings was the presence of known carcinogens that lasted well after extinguishment. This study and other opportunities has modified our SCBA use policy and practice, PPE/turnout gear doffing and decontamination practice and even down to station design to keep clean areas clean.

Our hope is that we continue to evolve in reducing the exposure to cancer causing products through encouraging best practices.

NFPA 1500 Update – Controlling Exposure to Fire Ground Toxic Contaminants by Battalion Chief David Bernzweig, Columbus Division of Fire


The latest revision of NFPA 1500 was just released in late 2016. This revision of the standard will have major changes and additions related to controlling exposures to fire ground toxic contaminants, including a new chapter dedicated solely to this important issue. This presentation will review all of the PPE use and exposure control related changes in NFPA 1500, as well as the technical committee’s work on a major revision to the rehabilitation standard (NFPA 1984). NFPA 1984 is being reworked to include post-fire exposure control and hygiene. Attendees will gain valuable insight into new requirements of NFPA “use” standards as they relate to the requirements of NFPA 1971 and NFPA 1851.

What is the Future of Urban Interface and Wildland Fire Fighting PPE? by Rick Swan, International Association of FireFighters


Current research is showing that wildland and urban interface fires are presenting new and unforeseen exposure issues. This presentation will discuss this research, the current PPE available, and what may be ahead for the future of wildland PPE. Attendees will learn about the nationwide issues of wildland urban interface and current research on health issues and exposures.

Research/Technical Track

Barrier Hood Standard Development and Status Update by Battalion Chief Bob Keys, FDNY (ret.)


This presentation will touch on the prevalence of certain types of cancers that are plaguing the fire service. It will include studies that are completed and those that are on-going. The FAST (Fluorescent Aerosol Screening Test) sponsored by the IAFF will be thoroughly presented with many pictures clearly showing the need for better neck and head protection. New requirements developed by the NFPA 1971 Hood Task Group will be presented. All major hood manufacturers will be asked to provide information regarding what barrier hoods they are currently making. These will be presented in a fair and unbiased manner for fire fighters to evaluate. The performance data claimed by each manufacturer will similarly be presented for evaluation. Reports regarding multiple wear trials and evaluations will also be discussed.

Development of Structural Turnout Ensembles that Provide Protection from Smoke and Particulate Infiltration by Dr. R. Bryan Ormond, N.C. State University (TPACC)


Chronic exposures to toxic combustion products found in the fire ground environment are believed to contribute significantly to the higher rates of cancers experienced by firefighters. When used during fire suppression and overhaul stages, the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) protects the highly susceptible respiratory tract from the toxicants in smoke and soot. However, firefighters are still being exposed to hazardous vapors and particulates when smoke penetrates the interfaces in the turnout ensemble and deposits on the firefighter’s skin. This presentation will discuss the research and development of new a new turnout ensemble with redesigned interfaces that provide protection from smoke infiltration. Particular attention will be given to discussing the current issues and concerns with newly developed particulate protective hoods from manufacturing and materials to durability and NFPA standards.

Technical and Practical Assessments for the Selection of New Barrier Hoods by Jeff Stull, International Personnel Protection, Inc.


This presentation will show the evolution of the new PPE category for particulate barrier hoods in the fire service. This include the IAFF-led research, the development of requirements, and the creation of laboratory based technical evaluations combined with practical field assessments. Specific details will be presented on the hazards of particulate exposure, methods of testing for particle hold out, and other important hood performance properties. Work at the Boston Fire Department will illustrate the additional measures for fire departments to undertake their own assessments to validate product utility and effectiveness.

THL – Its Benefits and Limitations by Shawn Deaton, N.C. State University (TPACC)


THL has been a part of the NFPA standards since the 1990’s. This single test has helped in the reduction of heat stress that could lead to heart attacks. However, this presentation will ask whether or not THL has reached its limit in terms of reducing heat stress. In addition, could tests such as Ret (Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile) provide different data that will help fire fighters reduce heat stress even more? These questions will be addressed by existing human data as well as modeled data.

Your Level of Protection, is it What You Need? by By Captain Dick Weise, Los Angeles County Fire Department


Captain Weise will cover the “cradle to grave” performance and expectations of your protective clothing. There will be a focus on risk assessment and how each department should select the garments appropriate for their application. Participants will learn best practices in PPE selection to help their organization get maximum value from its PPE.

Emphasis will be placed on how well you will be protected during the life of the clothing. For example, knowing the different health and safety risks that occur during the short term and long term exposure.

Other areas that will be discussed include:

  • Training (especially for recruits)
  • Inspection
  • Cleaning
  • Maintenance
  • Tracking
  • Follow-up with ISP’s
  • Trends