Be ready for anything
Take a moment to consider: apart from firefighting and emergency rescue, are there any other professions where workers are uncertain about what they will be doing during their shift, what to expect next, or whether they will make it through the day without harm? Even military personnel usually have an understanding of their main objective. However, unless a firefighter possesses clairvoyance, they cannot predict what they will encounter next. Therefore, when duty calls, they must be prepared for anything.
These heroes prioritize others' safety by first securing their own. To achieve this, they wear specialized eye and hearing protection. This safety equipment is necessary since these workers are constantly exposed to potential eye injuries and irreversible hearing damage, regardless of the situation.
The case for eye protection
As a firefighter, protecting your eyes from the extreme heat, ash, and debris that wind gusts, high-pressure water spray, and other dangerous fluids can stir up is essential. It is also important to shield yourself from flying wood chips and particles that chainsaws and other equipment may produce.
The ESS Innerzone Goggles come highly recommended, as this Ohio firefighter can testify:
"I would like to state how effective the Innerzone goggles have been to me. Last December, our department responded to a fully involved structural fire in which I was on the initial attack and searched for two victims trapped inside. The heat was much more intense than other fires I have been in. Afterward, upon inspecting my gear, I noticed that the goggles were in great shape after being unprotected on my helmet through this situation. We were recently dispatched to an auto accident where we had to extricate a victim from one of the vehicles. Our pressurized hydraulic line to the tool ruptured, and I thank my ESS goggles for protecting my eyesight and allowing me to continue working, even though I was covered in hydraulic fluid. Once again, these goggles have proven to me that they are effective and durable. Our whole department now uses ESS Goggles! Thank you!" -Travis Anderson, Firefighter/EMT, Enon Fire Department, OH.
On the other hand, emergency medical personnel are at risk of body fluid transmissions. Sealed safety goggles, such as the ESS Striketeam XTO Goggles, are required to prevent the transfer of bloodborne pathogens. Other dangers to these rescue workers come from flying metal and glass. During vehicle extrication, getting victims out safely often means breaking or sawing through windshields, sending powdered glass billowing into faces. And when the "jaws of life" are employed, glass, plastic, and metal debris often shoot out in unexpected directions. In these dangerous conditions, quality eye protection is vital.
The case for hearing protection
Firefighters are at significant risk of developing hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises. A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that two-thirds of the 458 firefighters tested had measurable hearing loss. However, this condition is preventable through the use of earplugs or earmuffs. It is recommended that emergency personnel wear these protective devices when working in areas where sound levels exceed 85 decibels, such as in proximity to sirens, air horns, apparatus engines, and power hand tools used for forcible entry, ventilation, and extrication. It's important to note that hearing loss is irreversible, but it can be avoided through these safety measures.
As the International Association of Fire Fighters stresses:
"Good hearing is a matter of life and death for firefighters. They must have the ability to hear a victim cry for help. The emergency alarm signal of other firefighters in danger. The low-pressure alarm on their self-contained breathing apparatus. And noises associated with imminent collapse or changes in the fire pattern where smoke and darkness minimize visual cues."
A real-world example highlighting the importance of eye protection
Gary Perkowski of the Manchester, NH Fire Department shares a story that illustrates just how important both eye and hearing protection is for rescuers:
"On October 24th, we were called to a building fire in an old wooden train garage. The fire started below the floor, which was made of large, heavy timbers approximately 6" thick. To get to the fire, we had to cut the floor apart. My LT and I each had a chainsaw and were cutting the floor apart when one of us struck a piece of metal in the floor. We were both peppered with metal fragments on our faces, but my ESS glasses took the brunt of the force. We both had numerous cuts around our eyes, but nothing penetrated the glasses and reached my eyes. If it weren't for the ESS glasses I wore, I believe I would have had eye damage. Thank you!"
We understand how important it is to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in such situations. That's why we highly recommend consistently wearing the appropriate protective eyewear and hearing protection while on duty.