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Hydrogen Cyanide

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  • Hydrogen Cyanide

    Is anyone out there currently monitoring for hydrogen cyanide at fire scenes? I recently attended the "Know Your Smoke" Symposium put on by the Fire Smoke Coalition. The entire class was about the dangers of toxic smoke, and they really focused a lot of time on HCN. We did a hands-on scenario where we took gas meters and burned a variety of materials to see just how high the HCN readings were. The PEL is 4.7 ppm so it doesn't take a lot of exposure to exceed the limits. Since it has more of a chronic effect rather than acute (other than extremely high exposures), we tend to not focus on monitoring this. We learn about it during training, yet do not apply it to our tactics. My department's current 4 gas meter monitors CO, O2, H2S, and Comb/Ex. Since H2S is primarily focused on the confined space environment, would it be a wise investment to change our current meter to monitor HCN rather than H2S? If anyone is currently monitoring, do you typically get high readings at fire scenes? Are you wearing your SCBA more often than before? Just looking to get some insight and maybe try to persuade my department to begin monitoring for it.

  • #2
    Worst time for a firefighter is after the fire

    They walk around the interior of a building without ppe inhaling and touching all the nice chemicals.


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