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Improved Respiratory Protection for Firefighters – Part 3: What can we do about Carbon Monoxide?

Most firefighters know and except that it is impossible to eliminate exposure to Carbon Monoxide unless you choose to self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

If comfort and reduction of irritation is the primary concern, there is a variety of disposable and reusable air filtering respirators. Each type has advantages and disadvantages in specific applications. By capturing the smoke particles and some of the off gases, irritation from smoke inhalation can be significantly reduced.

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Improved Respiratory Protection for Firefighters – Part 1: Smoke

The respiratory protection options that are being provided to volunteer firefighters by the NSW Rural Fire Service are very limited and could impact upon firefighter health.

The simple fact that firefighters are raising concerns on social media and other platforms is reason enough to investigate further.

Concentrations of CO and fine particulate matter in fire zones commonly exceed the short-term occupational health standards and can be between 100 and 1000-fold higher than ambient air quality standards. Indeed, CO concentrations exceeding 300 parts per million and fine particulate matter concentrations of 100 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) are common around bushfires.

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NSW Government bushfire inquiry to focus on failures in hazard reduction

Claims that “green tape’’ worsened an already “difficult and dangerous’’ fire season will be investigated at a special ­inquiry that will probe the state’s bushfire hazard-­reduction strategies, including land clearing and burn-offs.

The federal government has also bowed to pressure to investigate if the ongoing deadly fire season was fuelled by a failure to properly manage vegetation in national parks, forests and on private properties with temperatures expected to soar.

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