Many of you asked us: Are there real health and safety risks with the proposed Burn Building? The answer is: YES!
Here are the facts:
The EFPD has proposed to combine theatrical smoke with live burn training to “mitigate” the problem of toxic fumes. Typically, live burn trainings use wood to create heat and smoke for the desired effect and they do not use theatrical smoke.
Paul Peil, who spoke at the Fire Board meeting on 11 Sept., researched this extensively. He talked with the owners of Froggy’s Fog, professionals in the field and other Fire Departments. Theatrical smoke like Froggy’s Fog, by itself and in small quantities, is fine as long as the smoke generating machine is maintained and calibrated and fire is not added to the mix. However, inhaling a large plume of this smoke (when you walk by the school or down the sidewalk when the EFPD is training) is questionable for your health. Unlike firefighters, we do not wear masks. There is a class action law suit by the actors’ guild around having to breathe this in during productions.
It was discovered that the combination of chemicals when combining Froggy’s Fog with live fire greatly increases the toxicity. Theatrical smoke, per the owner of Froggy’s Fog, is not the preferred method to create a live fire and have the Froggy’s Fog product create the smoke element. This is what the fire department proposes to do. It is not designed for that. Combining those elements makes it toxic and can lead to combustion (a fire and or explosion).
This information was passed on to the EFPD repeatedly and Paul was dismissed as being paranoid. In fact, Paul was right all along. The fire district has now hired an industrial hygienist to look into this because of Paul’s insistence.
An EPA specialist, who originally stated that the smoke would be fine, has now sent an email to the EFPD stating that he reverses his decision. Having seen Paul’s research and The Naval Research Lab study on the same subject, he now believes that it is NOT a safe combination.
To summarize, we did the research that the EFPD should have done in the first place to protect the community. Not until we pestered them with the data did they look into what they were doing. This should have been their job from day one. We have yet to hear back from the EFPD safety officer on their findings.
We also found that, for the last 8 years, the EFPD has not calibrated their smoke generating machines. They have also been using the wrong cleaning products on their smoke machines. According to the manufacturers manuals, SUCH PRACTICES ARE DANGEROUS AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
Our firefighters are good people. Our concern is that they are a volunteer staff that lacks the full time, training and supervision required to maintain the safety of a live fire burn building.
It takes a lot to stay up with the latest techniques and procedures. The industry is constantly changing. Our volunteers cannot be expected to do all of this in their spare time. Training at the $18M facility in Lakewood, 25 minutes away, would satisfy these safety needs. Remember, firefighters only need to go there once every 3 years.