Battling heat stress

April 10, 2024

Tennessee-based HeatSeeker H2O is revolutionizing firefighter safety with technology designed to reduce heat stress and cardiac incidents, says Founder Michael Robinson

Climate change presents a pressing reality, and with increasing global temperatures, concerns are rising.

Powell, Tennessee-based HeatSeeker H2O Misting, Cooling & Decon Systems LLC has pledged to protect firefighters worldwide by manufacturing products designed to aid in emergency scene rehabilitation.

Numerous studies have been undertaken to understand the causes behind firefighter injuries and fatalities, and to quantify the subsequent financial implications.

HeatSeeker H2O is strategically focusing on rehabilitation to mitigate these risks.

Cancer has become the foremost cause of firefighter deaths, with cardiac issues following closely.

Heat-induced cardiac arrests have emerged as a significant problem, becoming the second leading cause of line-of-duty deaths.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents rank third.

These risks may seem disparate, but past research has indicated that heat stress could be a shared contributing factor.

Although fire departments globally enforce rehabilitative protocols, the ongoing rate of injuries and fatalities remains worryingly high.

In 2010, the United States witnessed 71,875 line-of-duty injuries and 72 fatalities.

Approximately 49% of these deaths were sudden cardiac incidents.

While physical training can equip firefighters to manage elevated heart rates, the stress is inescapable.

Increased body temperatures exert various detrimental effects on firefighters’ health.

These injuries and deaths not only affect the firefighting community but also influence the societies they safeguard.

Additionally, the economic impact of these incidents is substantial.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the national expenditure on addressing and preventing firefighter injuries varies between $2.7 billion and $7.8 billion annually.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that firefighters use inadvertently raises their core body temperature.

The body naturally cools down through sweating and elevated heart and respiratory rates, but these methods prove inadequate during firefighting activities.

High body temperatures can increase blood clotting, potentially causing sudden cardiac death.

Additionally, dehydration exceeding 2% of body weight can impair cognitive functions, leading to poor decisions and unnecessary risks.

HeatSeeker H2O, located in Knoxville, TN, has developed technology to address these concerns.

They identified a need for cooling and rehabilitation strategies and created tools to facilitate this process.

Products such as the innovative Six Shooter can lower air temperatures by up to 30°F, thereby reducing firefighters’ core temperatures and helping prevent cardiac incidents and other injuries.

These products can be easily installed on any firefighting apparatus and require minimal setup.

They utilize water from booster tanks or municipal water systems, consuming less than 3 gallons per hour.

The devices can also be adapted to fit most hoses or appliances on various firefighting equipment.

The cooling effect provided by these tools, when combined with fitness activities and medical screenings per NFPA guidelines 1582 and 1583, could significantly reduce both injuries and sudden cardiac deaths among firefighters worldwide.

HeatSeeker H2O is currently evaluating additional products aimed at reducing firefighter and sports-related injuries and fatalities globally.

A complete range of HeatSeeker H2O’s offerings can be found at www.heatseekerh2o.com and www.edarley.com.

Furthermore, a new initiative, www.operationmayday.org, is set to launch soon.

This venture reflects the ongoing fight to decrease line-of-duty fatalities.

All products are designed by and for firefighters in the United States.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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