Why Industrial Firefighting is Hot
If you want to be a Firefighter, and you are considering industrial fire fighting, here are some facts about the field. Like all firefighters, industrial firefighters put their lives at risk practically every day. You will be working to save factories, companies and products instead of families, homes, and forests. You will have access to leading-edge training and tools. Fire fighting technology has advanced tremendously over the last 20 years, helping firefighters respond to fires more effectively. Even with these technological innovations in place, the firefighting hose remains the single most effective emergency fire fighting tool available to you. Below are some of the environments where industrial firefighters use these tools and some occupational hazards they encounter.
A Wide Range of Environments
Be it privately employed by a company or as part of a municipal fire fighting crew, you will have to battle fires at a wide range of different facilities including:
· Long term storage and warehouses
· Petroleum refineries
· Recycling facilities
· Quench furnace and annealing facilities
· Pulp and paper manufacturing plants
· Plastics manufacturing plants
· Nuclear facilities
· Chemical and petrochemical facilities
· Woodworking facilities
· Bulk grain storage and processing units
All fires are different, and all pose different risks for firefighters. Close collaboration between the fire marshal and facility management is critical to ascertain what agent is fueling the fire. Caution must be observed particular with petrochemical companies. Certain chemical products can react with water to produce poisonous gases. Water will act as a conductor in electrical fires and will increase a gas fire. These agents will require carbon and chemical fire retardant foam.
Common Occupation Hazards for Firefighters
Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide and other heated gases released from a fire can increase a firefighters risk for cardiac problems. Sudden cardiac arrest is the most frequent killer of firefighters. This hazard is compounded for industrial firefighters who risk exposure to a variety of toxic chemicals and fuels while working in highly incendiary environments where dangerous conditions can escalate rapidly.
Heat stress, dehydration and structural collapses are other significant work-related hazards. Industrial building materials differ from those of typical commercial and residential structures and can give firefighters less time to respond.
Industrial firefighters require courage, physical strength, and the ability to make critical, life-saving decisions quickly.