NFPA standard focuses on firefighter health and safety

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Dangers Away From the Flames

 

On Feb. 8, 2017, Illinois firefighter John “Mike” Cummins, of Homer FD, passed out at the wheel while driving home from the station.

His passenger, fellow firefighter Cody Shik, jumped from the vehicle just moments prior to it crashing into three parked cars. Cummins, a first responder and 25-plus year volunteer, sustained multiple injuries and died a few hours later at nearby Carle Hospital.

Fire Chief Don Happ told police he knew Cummins was not feeling well prior to the accident. Recently, he’d had a blood clot removed from his leg.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common case with firefighters.

 

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Risk

 

Each year, nearly half of all firefighter fatalities result from personal medical emergencies.

In those cases, health issues are triggered by  grueling physical demands and hazardous work environments. For that reason, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created Standard 1582 to support firefighter health and safety.

NFPA 1582 contains a concise list of requirements necessary for instituting proper medical programs for firefighters. The list includes items such as: a physical examination, chest x-ray, and cancer screening.

With Standard 1582’s specific guidelines, the NFPA aims to reduce risks and improve the health, safety and effectiveness of firefighters.

 

Related Article: Breaking Down Requirements for NFPA 1582

 

Broward Fire Rescue Division Chief Todd DeLuc said that learning the requirements of NFPA 1582 and implementing them at every fire station is the best way to control preventable risks.

Also, it’s a way to ensure that “Everybody Goes Home.”

 

Be Compliant and Breath Easy

 

OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, 1910.134 (c)(1), requires that:

“in any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health and safety of the employee, the employer must develop and implement a written respiratory protection program, which includes fit testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators.”

Respirator testing is imperative for firefighters. 

Studies show that firefighters are at a higher risk for respiratory cancer due to increased toxic substance exposure. 

Thus, stations that fail to conduct the required testing may be hit with large non-compliance fines.

 

Related Article: Cancer Leading Cause of Death in Firefighters

 

There are over one million firefighters in the United States and, over half of them serve as volunteers.

Each day these brave men and women risk their lives to keep their communities safe. Cummins selflessly spent his life providing safety and well-being to his neighbors.

It’s time to focus on doing the same for firefighters.

 

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