Firefighting is a dangerous but necessary occupation, so firefighters need to take every safety measure to ensure they can perform their job without ending up in danger themselves.
However, it’s common for certain aspects to receive more attention than others. For example, a firefighter’s cardiac health and fire resistance are often focused upon the most, but consider the importance of eye protection when in hazardous fire-related situations. Here’s why firefighters need eye protection just as much as the rest of their gear.
Ever been in front of a campfire and felt as though your eyes were dry and irritated? Well, imagine what that would feel like when you’re surrounded by an inferno. Our eyes are sensitive to smoke and heat because it dries them out, causing reactions like irritation, redness, itching, burning, and more that would blind firefighters or make it difficult for them to see. Proper eye protection shields a firefighter’s eyes from the heat so that they stay moist and functional.
Smoke & Debris
Similarly, hazardous fire conditions produce a lot of smoke and debris as ash and soot fly through the air. This kind of debris can easily end up in a firefighter’s eyes and blind them — perhaps even extensively if embers got into their eyes. This is likely the most important reason why firefighters need eye protection because it prevents eye damage, whereas the drying factor of heat can be easily remedied once firefighters remove themselves from such a dry environment. Furthermore, if a firefighter needs to use any of their heavy-duty tools to get through blockades, bigger debris, or locked doors, that may potentially create more debris and hazards that could get into their eyes.
Keep in mind that firefighters are often called to the scene of medical emergencies as well. In fact, firefighters are often contacted for medical calls, and the most prevalent danger is contamination via the transmission of bodily fluids. Your orifices are especially at-risk for contamination, and this includes the eyes. A fair few models of eye protection have been designed specifically to prevent bloodborne pathogens when firefighters respond to medical emergencies.