There has been a lot of talk lately about cancer prevention. Everything from washing gear, wash your hood Sunday, “baby wipes” has been put out on the table. We keep our gear in a separate room, we attach tubes to capture vehicle exhaust, some of us even have multiple sets of gear that we can wash after every fire. While these are all good things it still does not provide tangible fire ground application to prevent us from taking in the toxic smoke that is a major cause of not only cancer but plays a role in weakening arteries which contributes to heart attacks and strokes.
Hot Zone Fire Ground
The Hot Zone Fire Ground concept is something you can implement TODAY that has little to no cost and is tangible for the street level firefighter and company officer.
Size up is a key factor in establishing the “zones” building type, weather, and the amount of fire (by products of fire) all play a part in establishing the 3 zones (Hot, Warm, Cold).
Cold Zone: This is an area not impacted by the by products of fire (smoke). It is located close enough that command officers can see the incident, and companies can transition to the warm zone but far enough away that PPE, and SCBA should not be required. The command post, and rehab/medical monitoring should be located here, as well as staging companies ready for deployment.
Warm Zone: This is an area close enough to the Hot Zone that resources can be deployed rapidly but that SCBA on air should not be required. However, the location of this area could become impacted by the by products of fire, and going on air may be needed. In this area PPE with SCBA off air is the minimum requirement and companies should be ready to transition rapidly to the Hot Zone. On deck companies, and Safety Officers should be located in this area. Rapid Intervention companies may also be in this area. Gross decontamination of PPE for firefighters transitioning to the cold zone should also take place.
HOT ZONE: The HOT ZONE is located in the IDLH atmosphere impacted by the by products of fire. This can be interior or exterior, if you are in smoke then you are in the HOT ZONE! In the Hot Zone full PPE and SCBA ON AIR is required. Interior companies, vertical vent companies, division supervisors, deployed Rapid Intervention Companies, Horizontal Vent, search and rescue etc. are located in this area. This includes maintaining this level of PPE and SCBA on air during overhaul until atmospheric conditions return to normal for citizens.
This concept gives officers and firefighters tangible guidelines on how to prevent exposure to toxic smoke, decon contaminated PPE, and deploy resources. This concept also allows command officers and division/group supervisors to have better accountability of companies engaged in the Hot Zone more closely. Mostly this costs next to nothing! It only takes company level and command officers to enforce it, and provide the needed resources to ensure all firefighters can maintain proper work rest cycles while in full PPE on air (continual size up of conditions determines this).
This concept also takes a constant size up as fire is a dynamic event that is impacted by several factors. Based on this the zones my need to expand or contract based on the exposure to the by products of fire (smoke).
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!