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September Drill of the Month

On the heels of another “Confined Space” LODD http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/news/fullstory/newsid/116155 this months drill is about Confined Space Rescue Safety, and Procedures.

Just a few months ago the IAFC issues a “Safety Stand Down” referencing Confined Space operations after several LODD in a short time period. The Stand Down page can be found here http://www.iafc.org/displayindustryarticle.cfm?articlenbr=42979 and has a ton of online resources that can educate you about Confined Space operations.

Since every department is a little different I challenge each and every one of you to sit down and take a look at your own departments SOP/SOG, your units capabilities, and your actions in the initial phases of an incident.

First lets remember what a confined space is:

1. A space that has limited or restricted entry or exit points

2. Is large enough for a person to enter and perform a task

3. Is not designed or configured for continuous occupancy

In addition OSHA mandates that a PERMIT required Confined Space has all of the three characteristics and one or more of the following

1. Contains or has potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere

2. Contains a material that could engulf the entrant

3. Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section

4. Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards

Reference to this information and much more can be found in the OSHA code section 1910.146 or just go here http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9797 

The most important thing is to use some serious COMMON SENSE when dealing with these types of incidents. Most common fire apparatus is not set up for even the most basic Confined Space Rescue entries, much less the complex ones. Know what your resources are for dealing with these incidents, the process for getting them, and CALL THEM EARLY! You can always send them home if it turns out to be nothing but even in my department were we have 8 firefighters on duty minimum that are assigned to the Technical Rescue Team, it still takes time for them to mobilize, deploy, and get on scene not to mention if it’s a complex entry that will require an off duty call out.

Bottom line is if you do not have a way to monitor the air quality of these spaces you have no business being near them. I know we all want to help people but we can help no one if we go down in the process. Isolate the area, and deny entry so that no one else becomes a victim, call the appropriate resources EARLY, and start a good IMS structure.

So in short please be safe out there, if you have any feedback, comments, or any other words of wisdom please send it to us in the comments section or shoot us an email, and as usual spread the word about the blog.


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