The North American firefighter Union, the International Association of Fire Fighters, is teaming up with a company
that produces gas monitoring equipment in a new campaign to raise firefighter awareness about the carbon monoxide (CO) threat.
The campaign will highlight the immediate and long-term health risks associated with CO exposure, as well as prevention strategies. It will be pursued at IAFF district meetings and conferences.
CO poisoning is a threat at every fire for firefighters. However, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, which are the major indicators ,don't always occur - or appear non-specific. This makes on-scene detection more difficult.
Mild CO poisoning can rob the brain of oxygen, which can lead to poor decision making. It can also deprive the heart of oxygen, causing immediate life-threatening complications. Just one severe CO poisoning event almost doubles the long-term risk of death. A relevant statistic here is that half the on-duty firefighter deaths in the US are attributed to heart attack or stroke.
Given that CO poisoning often occurs without symptoms or indications that appear non-specific, this campaign is a useful strategy says the IAFF. It will build on last year's distribution of CO risk awareness material to over 3,200 Union locals across North America.
Ignoring CO exposure can lead to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, loss of motor skills, lifelong disability, or possible death.