Focus on Safety: Proper Use of PPE – Every Time

Recent studies have shown increased rate of many forms of cancer among firefighters, underscoring the critical importance of the full and proper use of PPE during all activities – including training. Making sure you protect yourself by not cutting corners with your PPE is essential for your safety as an emergency responder. Whether you are at an incident or you are training in emergency-like conditions, make sure you always protect yourself with full and correct use of PPE. Wearing PPE correctly during training also reinforces safe habits that will carry over to the fireground.

Proper use and maintenance of personal protective equipment is a critical component of first responder safety. The NVFC’s B.E.S.T. Priorities for Firefighter Health and Safety identify the following practices every department should adhere to:

  • Provide and require the proper use of full personal protective equipment.
  • Maintain all equipment based on established safety recommendations.

Here are some resources you can use to learn why the full and proper use and maintenance of PPE is important and what you need to do to protect yourself and your fellow department members.

  • Line-of-Duty Deaths Continue to Soar: It is Time to Take Action – This article by NVFC First Vice Chair Kevin Quinn emphasizes the need for full and proper use of PPE on the emergency scene and training ground, and what is at risk when officers and firefighters become careless with their PPE.
  • Equipment Management Template – This downloadable, customizable template helps first responders ensure that all equipment, gear, and apparatus meets safety standards through timely maintenance and replacement.
  • Equipment Management Webinars – The NVFC, through a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, released a series of webinars on equipment management for firefighters and emergency services personnel. Topics include proper equipment management, funding equipment needs, retiring equipment, and equipment use and maintenance.
  • Taking Action Against Cancer in the Fire Service – Firefighters have statistically higher rates of multiple types of cancer compared to the general American population. This white paper from the Firefighter Cancer Support Network shows that cancer is a critical issue impacting the fire service and needs to be addressed. Included are proactive measures firefighters can take, such as properly using, cleaning, and storing PPE.