IAFC, IAFF Launch Carbon Monoxide Awareness Campaign

The new education campaign urges firefighters to take personal responsibility for their health and safety by recognizing the occupational hazards of carbon monoxide exposure and wearing protective masks during both active fire and overhaul operations to prevent unnecessary risks.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs has joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Masimo in announcing the launch of "The Silent Killer," an educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of the duty-related dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and reducing the known risk factors that unnecessarily kill or injure firefighters each year. The new health and safety campaign includes a six-minute video that highlights the immediate and long-term health risks associated with CO exposure, the emotional impact these risks can have on firefighters and their families, and advocates proper prevention strategies. The video can be viewed online at www.thesilentkiller.net and through complimentary DVD’s distributed to fire departments.

“The IAFC is pleased to be a part of this important educational campaign,” said Jack Parow, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “Carbon monoxide is a real risk that firefighters and first responders face every day. With the proper awareness, precautions, and testing, we can prevent firefighter deaths and extend lives."

This new education campaign urges firefighters to take personal responsibility for their health and safety by recognizing the occupational hazards of CO exposure and wearing protective masks during both active fire and overhaul operations to prevent unnecessary risks. It also encourages firefighters to get their CO levels tested on the fire scene with an approved noninvasive portable device and, if elevated, to seek immediate treatment, even if they are feeling well.

The video was produced and narrated by actor Randolph Mantooth. "Too many of our fire rescuers and first responders do not believe they too are in danger and, consequently, do not adequately protect themselves from becoming unknowing victims of CO poisoning," Mantooth said. "That's why it has become my mission to ensure that each and every firefighter and emergency first responder knows and understands these significant occupational hazards, how to properly protect themselves, and how to prevent unnecessary health risks to improve the odds that they will be around tomorrow to do what they were born to do.”

"CO is a significant and deadly occupational risk factor for firefighters," said Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of IAFF. "We know that carbon monoxide is present in every fire and symptoms of CO poisoning are nonspecific and easy to miss. Any firefighter potentially exposed to CO and presenting with headache, nausea, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal symptoms should be assessed."

Masimo founder and CEO, Joe Kiani, said, "We are proud to have supported the development and dissemination of this educational material for firefighters and first responders. The 'Silent Killer' campaign is our opportunity to help save the lives of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for each of us. We know that the more successful this campaign is in reaching and educating them about the hidden dangers and risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, the fewer of our heroes will become victims and have their lives shortened by carbon monoxide poisoning."

The new website was specifically developed to help raise awareness among fire fighters, first responders, emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, and their friends and families about the unsuspected occupational dangers of CO poisoning and how best to protect themselves. In addition to the video, the Silent Killer website features articles and resources which address the health and safety risks of CO poisoning.

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