Within this last decade the fire service has finally started to accept that occupational cancer is the largest threat we face.  Firefighters from across the nation are practicing the necessary steps needed to reduce their risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis.  One of the keys to reducing that risk, is limiting our exposure to carcinogens.  Studies have shown that our bodies can absorb all of these toxins at a very high rate.  One of the easiest ways that we can reduce our exposures to these carcinogens, is by separating the apparatus bay from the station’s living quarters.  NFPA 1500 9.1.6 states “Any components of the protective ensemble that are contaminated shall not be allowed in sleeping and living areas.


I’m sure we’ve all seen, or even been guilty ourselves of wearing our fire gear into the living quarters of our station.  Sitting down in chairs, tracking who knows what onto the floors.  We must break that habit and realize that the apparatus bay and living quarters should be treated like a hot and cold zone on a hazmat scene.


The “NO FIRE GEAR” or “FIRE GEAR NOT PERMITTED” signs can be placed on the living quarters doors to serve as a reminder to take off our fire gear before entering.  Hanging a sign up generally won’t be enough to stop this bad habit completely.  NFPA 1500 4.5.2* states “The Sops shall require the protective ensemble elements not be worn or stored in the living areas of the fire department facilities”.  This policy will need to be strictly enforced to gain full compliance.


The FIRE GEAR NOT PERMITTED signs can also be placed on the Door of the EMS rooms of our local Hospitals as a reminder.  The Cleveland Clinic Hospital group recently placed signs on all of their ems rooms hoping to detour unnecessary exposures to local EMS personnel.


Having a separation of the apparatus room and our living quarters is a very simple way to reduce unnecessary exposures.  It is a no cost item that should be a no brainer.  To make this change a department simply needs a sign, a policy, and some enforcement.


I have attached a “FIRE GEAR NOT PERMITTED” sign to the bottom of this blog.  Please feel free to print them out and place them on your doors.




Jim Burneka


Firefighter Cancer Consultants, LLC.

(937) 604-3611