Agent Orange is a dioxin-based defoliant used during the Vietnam War that has since been proven to be a carcinogen. Almost 40 years ago, hundreds of airport rescue firefighters, Willette among them, might have been exposed to the chemical because the aircraft used as part of their training and response duties had been sprayed with Agent Orange, traces of which remained in the planes. And they often trained without personal protective equipment (PPE).
Over the years, NFPA has sought to protect firefighters against dangerous atmospheres by producing a library of PPE standards such as NFPA 1971, Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting; NFPA 1981, Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services; NFPA 1851, Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting; and NFPA 1852, Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA),which contain design, testing, and certification criteria. For more information, read Willette's column "The Exposure Factor" in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.
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