Sponsored by Decon7 Systems
By FireRescue1 BrandFocus Staff
Fighting fires is by nature a hazardous job, but microscopic particles, from soot to fuel spills to bodily fluids, can be even more dangerous than flames in the long run.
Although not classified as such, every fire event represents a hazmat scene for firefighters, and proper PPE decontamination requires more than simply wiping off the particulates you can see. For firefighter-EMTs, the risk is even greater due to exposure to infectious diseases.
Decon7 Systems provides D7, a patented formula developed by Sandia National Laboratories, that can break down and neutralize carcinogens like formaldehyde and kill bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis and airborne microbes like E. coli.
Once applied, D7 begins to break down contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, drugs like fentanyl and other hazardous materials. Positively charged micelles, or clusters of molecules, draw germs and contaminants into the liquid, where the hazard is chemically altered and rendered harmless.
The solution, developed for the U.S. Department of Defense, is available in four configurations to cover a variety of decontamination needs.
Bulk Liquid and D7 Laundry
The bulk D7 solution comes divided into three parts: the detergent, the neutralizing agent and an accelerator. Once mixed, these can be applied with a foaming apparatus, low-pressure sprayer, mop or soaking system. Foaming turnout gear on the fireground is a good way to begin removing carcinogens.
Joe Hill, defense product manager for Decon7, suggests a two-step decontamination process, beginning on scene: Start with gross decon on the fireground, including tools, then launder turnout gear afterward to complete the job. Foam D7 on the gear of every firefighter who exits the fireground, let the gear sit for a few minutes, and then rinse everything with a water hose to begin neutralizing surface contamination.
“You’re getting all that stuff off before it gets a chance to absorb into your turnout gear and then absorb into your skin,” said Hill.
The next step is laundering turnout gear and uniforms back at the station to eliminate remaining surface toxins and those that may have been absorbed into the fabric. Unlike chlorine bleach, D7 Laundry is colorfast, biodegradable and will not degrade fabrics, and it has been tested and certified safe for use on PPE by NFPA standards, including fabrics, tape and liners.
For fire-rescue departments with ambulances, fogging the patient care compartment with bulk D7 can be especially effective to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This process involves dispersing a fine mist of the solution and closing all vehicle doors and letting it soak to kill anything that has become an airborne pathogen.
Handheld Unit: BDAS+
Decon7 also provides a ready-to-use handheld unit that automatically mixes and delivers the D7 solution within seconds. The BDAS+ unit provides the detergent, neutralization agent and accelerant in a single package and mixes them for one-step application.
In addition to enabling rapid response, the ready-to-use unit eliminates the potential for human error because the components are mixed for you. Simply pull the yellow safety tab from the nozzle, point it at the surface to be decontaminated, then spray and wait seven minutes for the solution to neutralize the contaminants.
Safe for Frequent Use
Historically, decontaminants have been highly toxic and highly corrosive. For example, while chlorine and bleach solutions also neutralize many biological and chemical agents, the runoff of these solutions is still hazardous. Also, bleach itself is highly corrosive and can cause damage to many surfaces and fabrics. Alcohol and ammonia present similar inhalation hazards and potential for damage.
D7 was developed to provide an effective decontaminant solution with low toxicity and low corrosive action that is safe for use around people and animals, safe for the environment and safe for equipment.
D7 can eliminate most pathogens – without harmful fumes like bleach – and neutralize common fireground carcinogens by breaking them down into nontoxic substances. It’s also used by hazmat teams to decontaminate meth labs and crime scenes. The formula is safe to apply on a variety of surfaces, including plastics and metals, and it creates no noxious fumes or odors.
Although D7 complies with environmental regulations, D7 is not FDA-approved for use on your skin. Users should wear gloves and goggles, plus a mask and protective clothing when applying the solution in close quarters.
Firefighters face numerous threats on the job, including exposure to carcinogens on the fireground and infectious diseases like hepatitis in the ambulance. Make sure you have adequate protection and decontamination tools so you can protect yourself from these threats.