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New Hoods for City of Hickory Firefighters

HICKORY, NC (May 2, 2019) — What do you wear when you go to work?  For firefighters to be effective, they must be properly equipped. That means boots, pants, coats, helmet, gloves, and hoods.  More than ever before, firefighting hoods are being developed to be a key component of standard firefighting gear.  Hickory firefighters have worn hoods for years but recently have acquired “Particulate Hoods”.  These hoods not only provide thermal protection on the particularly sensitive head, face and neck areas of a firefighter’s body, but also potentially carcinogen-carrying soot and other particles can collect in significant quantities in these areas.

There are many chemicals in today’s fire environment, and some include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These known carcinogens are absorbed through the skin at rates of 20% to 56%, with faster absorption for thinner skin, such as the neck. Skin absorption increases up to 400% with each 5 degree increase in skin temperature.

Chief Hutchinson said “Recent statistics and studies show the number of firefighters dying of cancer has skyrocketed since 1950. The Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FFCSN) notes that there is a cancer epidemic among firefighters.  Our goal has always been safety and with the implementation of these newer hoods, we will hopefully better protect our firefighters.”

Interesting Fact: Did you know?  In year’s past, North Carolina State University’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center received funding from the Assistance to Firefighter Grants program to improve understanding of the effects of particulate-blocking materials on the performance attributes of firefighter protective hoods. This research program (and others like it) seeks to further contribute to both the short-term effectiveness and long-term safety of firefighters in the evolution of protective barrier hoods and the rest of firefighters’ turnout gear.