Hazardous Materials on the Fire Research Paper

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Ones a site has been detected or surveyed to contain such carcinogens, proper protection should be availed to the brigade before they are allowed to access the site.

Neurotoxic Chemicals

Neorutoxic chemicals can cause damage (reversible or irreversible) to the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) or the peripheral nervous system (the nerves responsible for movement and sensation in the arms, hands, legs, and feet). This can be a setback in the fire service if the brigade is not protected from exposure or contamination to these materials.

Radioactive Hazards

Radioactive materials may emit alpha or beta particles or gamma rays. These agents can affect the cells of the body in various ways, but each is capable of destroying cells. In an emergency situation, one may know only that a material is radioactive without knowing which type of radiation is being emitted. The brigade should minimize their experience to any type of radiation by limiting the time that they are near the source of radiation; increasing the distance between the brigade and the source; and shielding themselves with appropriate material. SCBA and bunker gear can shield one from most alpha and beta radiation; several inches of lead is necessary to shield one from gamma radiation. Like other exposures, if ones clothing or skin is contaminated with a radioactive substance, exposure will continue until one is decontaminated (Chris, 2009).

Infectious (Etiologic) Agents

Like chemicals, biological agents can gain access to the human body primarily through inhalation, ingestion and contact with skin. Biological agents can also enter the blood stream directly through breaks in the skin.

Infectious agents include viruses such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the herpes virus. In emergency response, the virus that causes hepatitis and AIDS are most easily transmitted through exposure to blood and other body fluids. Avoid exposures to blood and any other body fluids including urine, feces vomits and any body tissues.

4.4 Symptoms of Exposure

Having seen the types of toxins, it would be prudent to be ware of the symptoms to watch out for in order to detect exposure to the toxins. Internal Exposure can exhibit symptoms as, confusion, light-headedness, anxiety, and dizziness. Blurred vision. Changes in skin color or blushing. Coughing or painful respiration. Tingling or numbness of extremities. Loss of coordination. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and unconsciousness.

The external exposure symptoms include; Pain on contact with the skin. Greasy slick feeling on the skin. Burning around the eyes, nose, or mouth. Nausea and vomiting. Localized burning or skin irritation.

4.5 Appropriate Scene Management

These therefore bring us to the appropriate scene management. Tchobanoglous (1977), notes "Emergency incidents can be resolved successfully when the health and safety of responders is maintained as the highest priority, when tactical objectives are appropriate for the established goals and when the scene is managed in a systematic manner."

Effective scene management depends on a well-defined structure that is outlined in standard operating procedures, routinely practiced, and used at all incidents. An operation without an incident management system leads to poor utilization of resources and endangers the health and safety of response personnel.

There are a number of basic objectives that must be met upon arriving at the scene of a hazardous materials incident. Establish command and secure the area. Survey the incident scene. Collect and interpret information on each material's hazards and appropriate response. Evaluate the extent of damage to each hazardous material container and predict its likely behavior. Assess vulnerable populations within the affected area and initiate protective actions as appropriate. Isolate the hazard using defensive actions. Continuously evaluate the situation and change actions as necessary.

5. Conclusion

It is very critical that the fire service provides a conducive environment to the members of the service, protect them from possible exposures to the hazardous material and the discussed preventive measures above are important to be adhered to.

6. Recommendations

Before the brigade handles the different material they may come into contact with in their various work sites, they must read and understand the manufacturers labels, manuals, instructions so as to be sure of the content they are dealing with.

Further, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that carries crucial information on the potential health effects of exposure to chemicals, or other potentially dangerous substances, and on safe working procedures users should adhere to when handling chemical products (NFPA, 1975). This document should be read, as a matter of necessity by all the members of the fire service unit. It will help them stay out of the potential danger of exposure, detect exposure and know how to deal with the exposure.

The easiest and yet most important one is effective scene management. As discussed above, it can be easily done and lead to the safest scene handling and prevent exposure 100% at no human or monetary cost.


Chris K, (2009). Laboratory Close-Out Procedures and Transportation of Hazardous

Materials. Retrieved on March 30, 2010 from www.ehs.indiana.edu/lab_closeout_chem_transport.shtml

Green & Turk (1978). Safety in working with chemicals. New York, NY: MacMillan.

NFPA, (1975). Fire protection guide on hazardous materials. Boston, MA: National Fire

Protection Association.

Tchobanoglous T. (1977). Solid wastes. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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