(You may not even know what PPE means yet but read on….. you’ll dazzle your firefighter with this discussion!) Sometimes we get stuck doing things the same old way. All the time. Because it’s worked. Because that’s how everyone else is doing it. Because it’s tradition. Especially because it’s tradition in the fire service. Well guess what? Tradition can take a hike because time and research show that some things cause us harm. I’m not a freaky helicopter-parent-hypochondriac-alarmist. I’m a girl who likes to watch science evolve and bring us better places because we know more. And while there is always controversy over changing to something new, there is no doubt the fire service is pressing into some new spaces. Behavioral health topics….oh, wow, we now realize all this stress can really affect a first responder in so many ways mentally and emotionally. We must do something about it. (See FirefighterWife.com/crisis if you are challenged with this) Wear your seat belt campaigns. Yes it takes a second to click it but when we realize more firefighters are hurt or injured when fire trucks crash than in an actual fire, the statistics speak for themselves. Firehouse redesign concepts. For better ergonomics, safety, response, training. A big topic this year at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore (see us there in booth 1183) Transitional Attack for firefighting. Before you get the idea that I know what this word means, realize I only know this because when I’ve wanted some QT with my man, I’ve chosen to cuddle up and watch videos on this and listen to his analysis of the topic. If you want to score some brownie points with your firefighter, drop this word around him.
So I’m all about learning, expanding, trying, inventing. Anything to make our firefighters safer and help them do their job better and faster to help more people.
You don’t see me blog on these topics much because honestly, I love my firefighter but it’s not my passion to be all in the know about firefighting techniques. I leave that for the expert fire bloggers and typically stick to the softer side here. But for the past few years we’ve been attending many of the major fire shows and I’m getting (dangerously) schooled up. One new trend I came across was in turn out gear. I hadn’t really stopped to think that no matter what kind of call my husband is going on, he’s pulling on that hot turn out gear. Even if he’s just standing watch on a freeway accident. And that gear is hot and heavy. Designed to protect him in a fire. But there’s another new design and alternative to hot heavy turn out gear (and yes, he will still look sexy in it!). TECGEN XTREME makes a new line of “PPE” (personal protective equipment, just learned that one last week LOL!) I’ll just use their words to describe: “TECGEN® brand non-structural turnout gear is dual-certified for Wildland Fire and Technical Rescue” Now I’ll tell you this. When I touched the fabric and picked it up, I said, can I buy one for my firefighter to wear at home while he’s doing work around the house? Because it was light weight and breathable and felt so indestructible! Seriously how many pairs of jeans or dickey work pants has your firefighter torn up messing around with projects at the house? Well, the sales rep was a bit shocked at my reaction. They didn’t really design it for home use and the protection built into it brings the price up and out of the reach of most consumers. So on to plan B. Does his Chief know about these? I’ve got to tell my fire wife community. And so it began. Our relationship with TECGEN, who is one of our main sponsors of #flamefest14 where wives will get to try on these gear in comparison to full turn out and try some of their own rescue challenges at the “Touch-a-Truck Fire Wife Style” event. Our hope is that by having the wives physically try some of the basic things our firefighters do every day – put on gear, breathe from an air tank, pull a hose line, break thru drywall – we’ll have a better understanding of their day and likely their level of physical exhaustion when all we want to do is have a good night call with them! But some more thoughts on that list of new developments……have you been hearing the new statistics on cancer in the fire service? Mega – alarming. I had the opportunity to talk with Keith Tyson of FirefighterCancerSupport.org and he shared statistics about one very large department in a metro area where 1 out of 3 firefighters had been diagnosed with some form of cancer over the 3 year period of the study. The number increased to nearly 1 out 2 of retirees. That’s jaw dropping. One reason…. carcinogens from fires left in the gear that is not cleaned out often or thoroughly enough. Houston just did a great news piece on this topic:
Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston This topic of the cancer trend is worth it’s own entire blog site and we’ll come back to it but it ties into a key message…. Let’s learn new ways. Let’s learn things we didn’t know before. And let’s push forward with research and innovation and alternatives in PPE (remember what that means?) and techniques and preventative measures to protect our firefighters and serve the communities better. This is why I occasionally step into this space of fire service specific topics. Because I want to do everything I can to support the companies that are bringing the innovations. and you know what? They LOVE telling us fire wives because what better way to put a bug in a firefighters ear than to have his loved one express their concern. A big gigantic thanks to TECGEN for helping us with this years Flame Fest in Chicago.
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