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FEMA Award to Study Cardiovascular, Chemical Exposure Risks for Firefighters Given to IFSI

A $1.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been given to the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) to continue its research on firefighting exposures to occupational cardiovascular and chemical risks.

The grant is part of FEMA’s Fire Prevention & Safety Grants Program, and is the seventh grant IFSI has received since 2007 from FEMA.

“Critical new information that the IFSI Research Program has gained from its ‘Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks in Modern Firefighting’ project is characterizing fire ground exposures,” an announcement stated, adding that, “In this new project, we will extend and compare this data to cardiovascular and chemical exposure risk associated with modern training fires. This complete data set will be rigorously processed, analyzed and synthesized, then packaged into an educational toolkit for firefighters, fire officers, standards-setting bodies and local government officials.”

With this comprehensive data analysis, fire and public officials will have information to effectively implement policies for minimizing cardiovascular strain and exposure risks to firefighters.

“Specifically, this new project will study risks associated with fires in buildings with typical household furnishings compared with training fires that usegas-fired props, theatrical smoke and/or natural wood products,” said IFSI Director of Research Dr. Gavin Horn.

Horn added that the toolkit will be the first of its kind to scientifically characterize and broadly disseminate the physiological changes and time course needed for firefighters to recover following work in firefighting environments. The study will also examine firefighters’ personal and PPE exposure to products of combustion and the effectiveness of cleaning procedures.

“This analysis, translation and dissemination of information will provide the most relevant dialogue for a national discussion on a timeline to return firefighters to service after a fire,” Dr. Horn said.

The Illinois Fire Service Institute is the statutory State Fire Academy for Illinois. In addition to training provided at its Champaign campus, IFSI also offers one-day hands-on classes for fire departments at regional training centers and local fire stations across the state. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information and research.

 

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