RAE Systems and Fire Smoke Coalition Team to Deliver Firefighter and Emergency Responder Training

“Know Your Smoke” Symposium Delivers Life-saving Awareness On the Dangerous Chronic and Acute Effects of Smoke Exposure

San Jose, Calif. – December 11, 2012 – RAE Systems Inc., the leading developer of wireless gas and radiation detectors for use by oil and gas, emergency responders, industrial safety, national security, and environmental monitoring industries, today announced the company will collaborate with the Fire Smoke Coalition to deliver the “Know Your Smoke:  The Dangers of Fire Smoke Exposure” training event for firefighters, emergency-responders and emergency medical providers.

The free training will take place December 17, 2012, at the Santa Clara Department Training Center in Santa Clara, Calif. Interested parties can register for this first-responder training event online at http://bit.ly/SRJMX8.

Toxic gas monitoring systems are an essential life-saving component of fire department equipment. The “Know Your Smoke” event will help educate firefighters and emergency personnel on their effective use to avoid dangerous smoke inhalation, most especially during overhaul operations. Leading fire service experts on hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO) smoke toxicology will speak in a classroom setting.

“In today’s smoke-filled environments, it’s not about how much you can stand; it’s about how little will kill you,” said Chief Rob Schnepp, Alameda County (Calif.) Fire Department.

The conference includes a classroom session on Monday followed by a two-hour live burn practical. The live burn practical will focus on the proper use of atmospheric monitoring equipment with an emphasis on monitoring HCN and CO because those are the only two treatable toxicants if smoke exposure occurs.

During the live burn practical session, the instructors will teach firefighters how to conduct atmospheric monitoring at every fire scene while burning household items such as plastics, foams, synthetics, laminates and roofing materials. Most important to the entire training session, firefighters will learn that every fire scene is a HazMat environment – a cultural change for fire departments throughout the world. 

“There are still a lot of widespread misconceptions about the dangers of fire smoke, and because we typically see a significant spike in fire-related incidents during the holiday season, it’s important to increase awareness and provide this resource now,” stated Shawn Longerich, Executive Director of the Fire Smoke Coalition. “These events are critical in keeping firefighters and the public-at-large safe and informed about the negative health effects of smoke exposure during a particularly dangerous time of year.”

 “Know Your Smoke” Seminar Educates Emergency Personnel on Toxic Twins: CO and HCN
Emergency responders in California recently reported that following an apartment building fire, gas detection equipment was used to check adjacent structures exposed to smoke only.   These gas monitors revealed 50 parts per million of Hydrogen Cyanide, which could have been lethal to civilians and responders if not detected.  Fortunately, because gas detection was used, people were evacuated and saved from lethal exposure.  The “Know Your Smoke” event offers invaluable education about the dangerous chronic and acute effects of smoke exposure. 

Smoke-Related Injuries Increase Need for CO and HCN Detectors

  • According to the NFPA, between 1981 and 2010, 174,145 firefighters were injured by smoke inhalation. Firefighter Injuries in the United States, Michael J. Karter, Jr., Joseph L. Molis, 2011.
  • In the United States, residential fires are the third leading cause of fatal injury and the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury death, yet the majority of fire-related fatalities are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. 
  • Despite the number of fires in the U.S. decreasing each year, the number of civilians dying in fires is actually increasing.  For example, in 2009, 1,348,500 fires were attended by public fire departments, a decrease of 7.1 percent from the year before; however, 3,010 civilian fire deaths occurred, which is an increase of 9.3 percent.1

Learn More, See More

  • Watch videos on Fire Smoke training sessions and how and when to use CO and HCN gas detectors HERE and HERE
  • Learn more about real-time wireless gas detection and experience a 3-D tour of the fireground HERE

About Fire Smoke Coalition
The mission of the Fire Smoke Coalition is to focus the required attention and resources on the deadly and life-long consequences of breathing fire smoke by teaching firefighters and first responders how to Prevent, Protect, Detect, Diagnose, and appropriately treat the exposure if it occurs. Learn more at www.firesmoke.org.

About RAE Systems  
RAE Systems innovates, designs and manufacturers gas sensors and radiation detectors. The company offers a full line of fixed and portable gas detection solutions, including handheld and personal chemical, compound and radiation detection instruments. RAE Systems’ real-time safety and detection systems have been deployed by organizations in the oil and gas, fire and HazMat, industrial safety, national security and environmental markets, helping save lives and maintain safety in 120 countries. The company’s industry-leading gas sensors and radiation detection solutions are widely recognized for their performance and reliability. Learn more at raesystems.com.


1United States Fire Administration; Fire Loss in the United States in 2009; Michael J. Karter.