Wildfire fighters work in heavy smoke, and in Canada have little protection – CBC

B.C., Alberta studying potential masks for wildfire fighters

Jul 06, 2023

After 13 seasons of fighting smoky wildfires in Ontario and B.C., Ian Sachs said his body started to feel the wear and tear.

“You’re often in smoke. Even on a small initial attack, you’re usually breathing smoke,” Sachs said.

“When you’re 22 and doing it, you don’t think about it. But once you get over 30 and you start feeling the burn, it creeps up on you. That I might have to think about this down the road.”

Sachs said the biggest thing he began to notice about acute smoke exposure was how it lingered in his body, especially when he and other FireRangers were often camped in close proximity to the fires they were fighting.

“Waking up with a kind of smoke hangover in the morning,” he said. “When that smoke settles, you’re breathing it in all night and you’ll wake up with that wheeze and that headache.”

Sachs said outside of COVID, he was never offered any kind of respiratory protection. But, he’s not sure there were any masks that would have worked well or held a tight seal in wildfire conditions.

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/wildfire-fighters-smoke-protection-1.6897879

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