If you are a member of any firefighter Facebook group, read magazines like this one, or tend to have good conversations in the firehouse, you have undoubtedly heard a lot recently concerning firefighters and cancer. States like Maryland and Texas have passed laws that presume that if a firefighter is diagnosed with certain types of cancers that it was job related.
Fire Wipes is a product that is meant to aid in protecting firefighters until getting back to the firehouse. It is a wipe that comes 12 to a box with each wipe being eight inches by 12 inches.
Furthermore, in 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health performed a multiple year study on firefighters and cancer that was funded by the United States Fire Administration. In 2015, NIOSH released some interesting findings. Their findings can be read here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/ff-cancer-factsheet-final.pdf. In short, many cancers were more prevalent in firefighters than in the general population.
The problem is that firefighters are exposed to many particles in house fires and in other aspects of the job. These particles are often carcinogens. They get on your skin, your gear, and into your bodies and cause immediate to long term problems.
So, what can you do?
Simply put there are several things you can do to protect yourself. Some examples are:
- Monitor the air levels in structures and mandate SCBA usage until the air is safe to breathe.
- Wash all turnout gear regularly and after every fire no matter the size.
- Take a shower as soon as you can once you get back to the station.
At a recent national conference, spending time speaking to so many and enjoying the conversation, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Creston Ludlow, owner of Fire Wipes. Fire Wipes is a product that is made and owned by firefighters. Our conversation was very intriguing to say the least.
Fire Wipes is a product that is meant to aid in protecting firefighters until getting back to the firehouse. It is a wipe that comes 12 to a box with each wipe being eight inches by 12 inches. The wipes are hypoallergenic and fragrance free. They are meant to be used to wipe your face, hands, and other exposed parts of your body on the fire scene. In essence, this wipe is the gross decontamination for your body after a fire or incident that you have gotten any particulate on your skin. They retail on the Fire Wipes website for $13.99 for a box of 12 and $299.99 for a Master Case of 288.
Mr. Ludlow offered me several boxes of the wipes to try out and with the permission of my department we put some on each of our units.
I took the time to open one wipe to see what it was all about. First thing I noticed was that it was large and tough. It did not tear easily at all and was big enough for me to use if needed. It was damp but not wet to the point where liquid was dropping off of it like some similar type wipes. The final thing I noticed was that it really did not have much of a smell at all. So many wipes, due to chemicals and other additives, have an alcohol like smell. To me this wipe did not.
Fast forward a little time to end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. My station ended up running about six house fires in about two weeks. After coming out of the first fire, I remembered the Fire Wipes. Several of my guys and I went and got a Fire Wipe. The wipe again did not tear and was easy to use. It was gentle on the skin and did not burn or anything to that nature. Once I was done with the wipe, I looked at it and you could see tons of particles that had been on my face and hands. Without a doubt, it had done its job. In addition, my face felt like it had been thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.
I can say that I am very pleased with the Fire Wipes product. In fact, everyone from my department that used the wipe and spoke to me about it did as well. As a result, our department is actively looking into adding this to our budget so we can purchase these for our trucks. We must protect ourselves, so we can protect others.
Until next time, be safe!