FIRE INVESTIGATOR SAFETY & EQUIPMENT Instructor Rich Musicant
Learning Objectives To NEVER get injured or killed Identify and understand common hazards associated with fire investigations. Identify and understand safe practices for fire investigations Identify equipment used for fire investigations
A word on SAFETY Fire scenes by their nature are dangerous places. Fire investigators have a duty to themselves and to others who may be endangered at fire scenes to exercise due caution during their investigations.
Getting Started As in most endeavors, PROPER PRIOR PLANNING is the best way to avoid injuries. This includes: Knowing what you’re getting into Having the proper equipment
Preparing for the Investigation Type and magnitude of fire Status of incident Time of day & weather Type of area Other Hazards
Preparation Number of investigators Safety equipment Tools Special resources Based on initial information, you can begin to formulate a plan for the investigation
What would you bring? Number of investigators Safety equipment Tools Special resources 0230 hrs mid February, residential fire, contained to bedroom, fire damage to one room, smoke and heat damage throughout.
What would you bring? Number of investigators Safety equipment Tools Special resources 1900 hrs May 10 th, fire in a 2 story manufacturing plant, heavy fire smoke and heat damage throughout structure, reported explosions of 55 gal drums.
What would you bring? Number of investigators Safety equipment Tools Special resources 0100 hrs November 12, fatal fire, 1 victim, 2 story residential with attached garage, heavy fire damage to entire structure.
Basic Safety Equipment Whenever you go on a fire investigation you should have the following basic safety items readily available. Identification - Badge and/or ID card - Accountability tag
Advanced Safety Equipment Hazardous Materials Ensemble - Level A - Level B - Level C - Level D If you are using this gear, you need decon resources in place BEFORE you start your investigation.
Advanced Safety Equipment Hazardous Materials Ensemble If you find that you need any ensemble above level D, ask yourself how important it is to be in there for an investigation.
Reporting to the scene Responding to the fire scene is similar to an emergency response, but generally not as time sensitive. When driving, you should always take care to arrive safely. Make sure your vehicles are positioned so they don’t block other vehicles at the fire scene
Reporting to the scene Upon arrival notify the incident commander and accountability officer when required. If fire units have cleared the scene before you arrive, make sure someone knows where you are and what you are doing.
Scene size up Before you begin an investigation, you should assess the scene for potential hazards. There are many factors to consider before any investigators should enter the structure
Scene size up Assessing the scene - Utilities secured - Structural stability - Air monitoring - Stage of the incident
Safety Issues The fireground typically has many substances which may be hazardous to your health. These substances may enter the body one of the following ways: Ingestion Inhalation Injection Absorption
Safety Issues As an investigator you will come into contact with any number of these substances that could be harmful to you. It’s important to limit your exposure as much as possible. Pyrolized materials Accelerants Contaminated water run-off
Safety Issues Body substance isolation Hand washing Equipment decon - Latex gloves - Protective clothing
Safety Issues What lies beneath… Nails Broken glass Splintered wood Other sharp metal Who knows what else ???
Safety Issues Fatigue Depending on the circumstances, fire investigations may be a prolonged operation. Be aware that fatigue may set in and effect your physical and mental abilities.
10 Rules for Investigator Safety 1. Know what you’re getting into 2. The only life hazard at a fire investigation is the one YOU create for yourself. 3. There’s no reason to rush… The fire won’t unburn 4. Know where you’re stepping
10 Rules for Investigator Safety 5. Know what you’re cutting and what it’s connected to 6. If you’re using tools, know how to use them properly 7. If you get hurt and there’s nobody that knows about it, you’re still hurt. 8. Know what you’re touching
10 Rules for Investigator Safety 9. If you didn’t personally see the utilities secured, consider them HOT. 10. There is NOTHING in there worth your life.
Take care of your tools !!! As in most professions, you must take proper care of your tools. It’s important not only to use them properly, but also to maintain them and store them with care.
Tool care and maintenance Maintaining your fire investigation tools is especially important due to the hazard of cross-contamination. It’s also a health hazard to let some substances acquire in your vehicle or storage areas
Dirty Gear Isolate dirty or contaminated tools and gear from the clean equipment.
Tool care and maintenance Clean your tools after each use so you don’t cross contaminate fire scenes or evidence. Avoid putting tools away dirty !!!
Tool cleaning Clean your tools with a mild detergent in a clean environment. Allow them to dry properly and prevent rust from forming.
Tool storage Keep your tools in a safe clean place free of contaminants. Whenever possible you should keep your tools under lock and key.
Tool safety It’s especially important to know the proper use of your tools and how to use them safely. If you’re unsure how to use a certain tool, be sure to get instruction and practice if you can.
Other tools A small toolbox may be helpful during investigations.