Changes in the Fire-Rescue World

As America’s lifestyles have changed, these new ways of work, transportation, recreation and play everyone has experienced new activities in safety, exercising, and living styles.  These changes have also fostered many forms of different training, education, and working practices for Newtown Square Fire and Rescue activities.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof commented the local fire and emergency services must learn from differing and various safety sources.  These lessons come from new changes in America’s lifestyle, play, recreational activities, and new hobby and work experiences.

These life- and property-protecting services must learn from differing and various safety sources.  These lessons come from firefighting history, reviews from current events, and advances of fire-science. Also, safety has come from discoveries of stranded citizens or trapped firefighters, as well as general firefighting advance.

Before: In the 1950 era, the common footwear worn by firefighters was very like the continuing and current wader boots worm by stream-wading people fishing.  The legs and feet were kept dry.  One early advance in this era of footwear and several later generations of footwear used in fires was an insert that prevented foot puncturing piercings of the sole of the boot.

Current: The modern footwear is both supportive and protective. It appearance may look like a builder type boots, but their design and construction provides both a modern form of a sturdy method of walking on various types of construction and debris as well as general safety.

Before: In that same era, the firefighting gear was more like a rain coat and with some later changes, there were vest-like inserts that helped become a warming help in after-fire, winter temperatures.

Current: Today protective outer wear used by firefighters is a very distant cousin of that used in the mid last century.  No longer is the firefighting outerwear “just like a raincoat.” Its construction is the product of modern science.  Through extensive research, both the fabric used and its weaving pattern found in ‘bunker coats,’ the name of the top, outer wear used in fighting fires, is resistant to burning.

Some modern firefighting gear also has incorporated another fabric which permits the firefighter to crawl on floors to escape from the heat and fire in a firefighting area.  This near-floor posture is used by searching firefighters as they look for stranded occupants, as well as fighting fires.

The interior of today’s firefighting gear has insulation that remains in place both summer and winter.  In the summer, this insulation helps prevent the firefighter from being over-heated in fires.

Before: Early methods of firefighting would not encourage long exposures to the smoke and combustible gases in an interior building fire.  The earliest form of purging smoke particle was done by filter-type devices.  As the firefighter breathed, his inhaled air passed through cartridges that attempted to “capture” the unwanted smoke particles.

These devices were replaced with a device that had applications in coal mine and US Navy fires. The exhaled air and its moisture were captured in rubberized containers.  This moist air aided in the generation of breathable oxygen that sustained life for the user.

Current: Larger, lighter canisters of compressed air (filtered air, not oxygen) stored in back-borne devices replaced the chemical devices. With local, air storage master bottles and their use in the easy refilling of emptied, fire ground-emptied air bottles can be refilled. This provides firefighters with better sources of potable breathable air. Firefighting history, reviews from current events, and advances of fire-science safety has come from discoveries of stranded citizens or trapped firefighters, as well as general firefighting advance.

By having available this bottled-aided, extended air source and the time spent in fire ground rehabilitation, firefighters are much safer than even a few years ago. In explaining the contents of these breathing bottles, Newtown Square’s Chief Everlof stressed, “These bottles are filled with filtered air, not oxygen as some people think.  As this air leaves the pressurized containers, this air is somewhat cooled. This is also a benefit.”

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