Home Podcasts THMG134 – Sulfuric Shirt Incident

THMG134 – Sulfuric Shirt Incident

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In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss dry decontamination and a sulfuric shirt incident sent in by a listener.

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Complete Show Notes

5:30 Dry Decon – A New Method of Decontamination

  • Bob and Mike’s fire department has recently switched over to what’s called dry decontamination
  • NYC has been using this since 1984, but their department has been using the old method
  • Shoutout to Jeff Berrigan for explaining dry decon in a way that’s easy to digest
  • Not washing down firefighters like cars anymore – new technique is called “wipe spray wipe”
  • Wipe it, spray it with one of two different solutions, wipe it again, and then cut the firefighter out – 1 gallon of water can decon 12 firefighters
  • Don’t have to worry about drumming and over-packing since the garb is very lightweight

8:05 Background on Sulfuric Shirt Incident

  • Mixed load run – some batteries were destroyed and sulfuric acid was dripping
  • Firefighters were wearing DuPont® Tychem® F suits (comparable to an OSHA Level B), which provide very good chemical resistance (and are compatible with sulfuric acid)
  • Worked on over-packing the batteries for around 90 minutes – this is important because the tape on their suits started to come off a bit as they worked
  • When the listener came out of his suit, he noticed how sweaty he was around the zipper and at his feet, but didn’t think much of it at the time
  • As he was going through his locker the next day, he noticed the shirt he was wearing the day before was completely dissolved in the front
  • As it turns out, water was able to make it through the chem tape and the zipper onto his shirt – sulfuric acid is very water soluble, so it was able to get onto his shirt beneath the PPE

13:20 Situational Analysis from Bob and Mike

  • Big question: Is the Tychem® F suit technically a splash suit?
  • NFPA 1992 standard for Level B doesn’t say anything about what the zipper can or can’t take in
  • Standard says the suit is for “accidental splashes” – it’s not designed for use when we’re playing in the product
  • If you know you’re going to be spending time in a liquid environment, you should explore the other Level B options out there before automatically going with Level A
  • In the sulfuric shirt incident, the splash wasn’t from the accident – it was from the decon process
  • We can’t assume that a suit is right for the job just because it lands within the NFPA or OSHA standard(s) for that suit
  • Rear-entry suits might be best for runs where there’s a lot of splashing – keep this in mind
  • Two major types of Level B protection – hooded (SCBA on the outside) and encapsulated (SCBA on the inside)
  • We don’t mean to seem like armchair quarterbacks and fully understand how hard it can be to make decisions on the fly – we’ve done chemical runs in the same exact suit
  • Very grateful to the listener who presented this incident because it helps get a conversation started and increases everyone’s awareness

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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