Specialist hoods introduced to protect public in emergency fire evacuations

Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold discusses the fire escape hoods with Area Manager Philip Pells and Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey

Thousands of pounds in post-Grenfell funding have been spent on kitting every fire engine in the county with fire escape hoods, to help keep people safer during fire evacuations.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has bought in 120 fire escape hoods, which can be placed over the heads of members of the public to help stop them from breathing in toxic gases, and will be used in incidents where firefighters need to wear breathing apparatus.

The single use lightweight hoods provide up to 15 minutes protection, reducing the exposure and making it less dangerous for the public when firefighters have to lead them to safety through smoke-filled buildings.

NFRS has purchased the hoods, at a cost of £13,000, paid for with Government grant funding given to services for improvements post the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

These fluorescent, respirator devices will not be used in every fire, but will be deployed where appropriate to support rescues and evacuations.

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “One of the challenges for firefighters in evacuating buildings is ensuring the public are as safe as possible, even when passing down staircases, through hallways or other areas filled with toxic smoke.

“These hoods are a welcome addition to our appliances as they really will provide a life-line and help the public, preventing them absorbing the gases and improving our chances of saving lives.”

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “Many people don’t think about the huge risk that comes with smoke, but toxic fumes can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to escape safely.

“I’m pleased to see these potentially life-saving hoods in service, giving firefighters another tool in their work to keep Northamptonshire safe.”

How do fire escape hoods work?

• A fire escape hood is worn over the head. It has a tight seal, which stops smoke from getting inside. The only air reaching the wearer comes through a filter, which removes the toxic gases found in smoke.

• Fire escape hoods help give 15 minutes of protection from four main gases in smoke: carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and acrolein, and work by filtering air.

• Fire escape hoods also include an anti-fog visor, which enables wearers to see better in hot, foggy conditions.

• The hoods can be used when someone is required to stay in a smoke-filled area for a short period of time, or when people need to pass through smoke to reach safety.

For more information, watch the video below about how fire escape hoods work:

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