Firefighters take risks every day. Risks are inherent to the job. They’re necessary. Although today’s firefighters are protected by an array of modern, high-tech equipment and life-saving tools, the rate of “line of duty” firefighter deaths is alarming. The number one killer of firefighters is not fire … or building collapse … or explosions. It’s heart attack. And, evidence is mounting that a great contributor to firefighter strokes, heart attacks and heart disease comes from both acute and long-term exposure to carbon monoxide (CO).
CO. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. Yet it can—and will—kill you. Having almost died from CO exposure myself, I can speak to CO’s insidious killing power. With all the necessary risks firefighters take on a daily basis, CO doesn’t have to be one of them. The greatest safety net a firefighter has on the fire ground is training. Train yourselves to look at CO differently. Education, on-the-job monitoring and regular medical check-ups will go a long way in reducing this unnecessary risk.
Motivate yourself to learn everything you can about CO so you’ll be around longer to do what you were born to do … fight fires and save lives.