F I R E R E S C U E
M A G A Z I N E
A P R I L
2 0 0 8
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part article on PPE selection and modification.
Part 1 ran in November 2007, p. 50.
Post-incident analyses of firefighter line-of-duty deaths and injuries consistently identify
a lack of situational awareness as the underlying cause. The failure to establish and main-
tain a sufficient level of this basic operational necessity results in ill-advised decisions,
flawed judgment and poor tactical/strategic choices. If errors in judgment and poor
choices in the personal protective equipment (PPE) selection process were subject to the
same intense after-the-fact scrutiny, deficiencies in situational awareness would surely be
identified as a chief culprit in this venue as well. As a matter of fact, the need to contin-
uously monitor and consider the characteristics of the prevailing operational environ-
ment is fundamental to virtually all spheres of decision making. The process of
specifying, selecting, modifying and replacing PPE is no exception.
I previously demonstrated that the efficient and successful conduct of the PPE
process mandates that it be a continuous one. The successful PPE decision-maker
must constantly assess those environmental influences that recommend, if not com-
pel, modifications or replacement of PPE and/or revisions in the related specifications.
Two sets of virtually irresistible forces of change stand foremost among these external
1. The incessant flow of new or improved technologies and products developed
through research and applied science; and
2. The continuously evolving requirements of the relevant regulatory
BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY
In every aspect of daily life we are exposed to both the benefits and
the detriments of advanced technology and engineering, and the
fire service is certainly no exception. At times, the deluge of new
products and technologies can be so mind-numbing that only
the most noteworthy, or notorious, generate more than a col-