A firefighter generally wears a full face mask connected to a canister of breathable air. But a firefighter battling wildfires in the western United States typically wears a bandanna. Particular arrangements dictate what these firefighters should be wearing in different situations to stay safe. There hasn’t been enough research to provide similar instructions for wild land firefighters.
“There are some studies on acute effects—they can tell you what will happen immediately—but nothing really about what’s going to happen in the long term,” said Jessica Oakes, an assistant professor of bio-engineering at Northeastern University. “We’re going to fill that gap.”
Jessica Oakes and her fellow assistant professor Chiara bellini recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management agency. They would study the health consequences of smoke inhalation on wild land firefighters. They would also provide recommendations for protective equipment that will keep the firefighters safe. People who spend 10-20 years of their youth in this service should be given proper medical assistance. This will prevent them from having cardiopulmonary diseases when they get aged. Since the 1980’s, the number of large wildfires cases has been slowly increasing, and that is expected to continue to increase.
Wildfires have burned over eight million acres of land so far. Firefighters have to work double shifts to battle the same blaze for long hours. Oakes and Bellini are working with an advisory panel of firefighters led by Casey Grant, the executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, to ensure that their research meets the firefighters’ needs. Their goal is to understand what protective gear firefighters would use in different situations. Then also to determine the best ways for them to limit their cardiovascular and respiratory risks.
Some strategies can be followed to tackle wildfires are employing a natural or man made control line. Back burn strategy which may be set by the firefighters pushes the main fire burning out the main fuel. Aerial attack and Cold trailing techniques are also some best process to put out fire. The researchers plan to use computational models and animal models to determine what the firefighters are being exposed to and the best equipment to protect them.