A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO IMPLEMENTING A DECON PROCEDURE
*Adjust accordingly to best suit unique incident or department’s protocol
PRIOR TO A FIRE CALL
1. Invest in individually customized PPE that is properly fitted to each firefighter.
When budget allows, consider particulate barrier hoods; light, breathable turnouts; and a set alternative PPE for non-structural calls (this may also reduce heat stress and cardiac fatigue).
2. Stock the apparatus with decon supplies, including:
- 5 gallon bucket
- A hose with small nozzle
- Scrub brushes
- NFPA-approved detergent
- Spray bottles
- Facial wipes
- Decon bags (large enough to fit turnout ensemble)
- Spare gear bags and garments
3. Activate your local decontamination mobile unit, if available in your region
4. Pre-establish a storage area on the truck or in a separate unit to store soiled PPE
AT THE FIRE SCENE
5. Set up a designated & enclosed decon space in the direct path of the exit point and away from the engine.
6. Get hosed down head to toe using a small-nozzled hose before removing PPE or SCBA
7. Use a scrub brush to knock loose any remaining residue and repeat #6, if needed.
8. Label and use a 3 mil thick, airtight Decon Bag to isolate all soiled PPE.
9. Carefully remove SCBA and hood with gloved hands and pack into Decon Bag
10. Doff remaining ensemble, also storing it into the Decon Bag
11. Secure airtight Decon Bag while wearing medical gloves and prepare for transport, preferably outside the Passenger Compartment of the apparatus
12. Use soap and water or facial wipes (while still wearing medical gloves) to remove toxins from the most vascular areas of their skin (i.e. face, head, neck, jaw, throat, underarms, groin, and hands).
If possible, wash hands and face with water and a degreasing soap (i.e. Dawn™ dish soap) prior to leaving the scene.
13. Continue on to screening/hydration/replenishing/relaxation area
14. Make arrangements for Decon Bags to be picked up, delivered, or cleaned on-site
15. Shower to wash off any remaining residue from their skin
16. Clean all other items that may not withstand full water immersion (i.e. helmet liner, inside of helmet, thermal imaging camera, portable radio and strap, flashlight, SCBA mask, etc.) using a damp, soapy cloth.
17. Log all cleanings & repairs in GearTracker or similar database.
18. Encourage routine screenings for early detection
- Make sure the last person to use the hose cleans it prior to storing
- Restrict finger foods from the fireground. Only provide meals that require use of utensils to eat, ensuring no one uses their hands
- When directly handling contaminated equipment/PPE, personnel should wear medical gloves.
- If laundering contaminated PPE on-site, use an NFPA-approved extraction washer and detergent and follow the PPE manufacturer’s instructions.
- High traffic areas of the apparatus’ passenger compartment (i.e. seats, doghouse, headsets, etc.) should be wiped down on a weekly basis.
- As a rule of thumb, if any equipment smells of smoke, it is considered to be “contaminated” and shall be decontaminated as soon as possible.
ABOUT FIRE-DEX's WE CARE INITIATIVE
Our WE CARE initiative is an ongoing effort to build protection for you and your family in and outside the firehouse. Visit our web page for resources on mitigating occupational exposure to carcinogens and heat stress as well helpful tips for implementing your own decontamination procedure.
Together, we can be the culture change.