Carbon monoxide exposure puts fire fighters at significant risk at the scene of a fire. Even mild carbon monoxide exposure can cause mental confusion – which can lead to poor decision making, putting both the exposed fire fighter and others at the fire scene at risk.

Carbon Monoxide: EMS Response to Fireground Incidents will be discussed at this year’s IAFF John P. Redmond Symposium on the Occupational Health and Hazards of the Fire Service in conjunction with the Dominick F. Barbera Emergency Medical Services Conference. You still have time to sign up for the conference:

The IAFF is raising awareness among fire fighters about the duty-related dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and reducing known risk factors that unnecessarily kill and injure hundreds of fire fighters each year. The session will also provide appropriate EMS response to these events.

Essentially all fire- fighting environments can be expected to contain some level of carbon monoxide. Depending on the fire, levels may range upward from 50 parts per million (ppm).

Exposure to carbon monoxide can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is important considering nearly 50 percent of line-of-duty deaths among fire fighters are a result of heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s so important for fire fighters test for carbon monoxide in the air before removing your SCBA during overhaul and before allowing residents back into the structure.

Known as the silent killer because you can’t see it or smell it, carbon monoxide is the number-one cause of poisoning deaths in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die in the United States from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year. However, only 25 states require carbon monoxide detectors in residential buildings.

The more you know about carbon monoxide poisoning, the better you’ll be able to avoid the unnecessary risk it presents. If you are attending Redmond take time and participate in this important discussion.