Firefighter’s effort results in better health protection

Capt(N) Sam Sader, Base Commander, presents base firefighter Curt Morwick with a Bravo Zulu  for his work to improve the occupational health and safety of his co-workers. Photo by: Sailor First Class (S1) Sisi Xu, MARPAC Imaging Services, Esquimalt

Capt(N) Sam Sader, Base Commander, presents base firefighter Curt Morwick with a Bravo Zulu for his work to improve the occupational health and safety of his co-workers. Photo by: Sailor First Class (S1) Sisi Xu, MARPAC Imaging Services, Esquimalt

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer
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Sometimes all it takes is a little ingenuity and a desire to effect positive change to make a workplace better.

A year ago, firefighter Curt Morwick set about to improve the balaclava-style hood used by himself and other firefighters at CFB Esquimalt Fire and Rescue.

His team used disposable, single-use hoods to protect them when fighting a fire, or just out on an emergency. It is fitted between the firefighter’s helmet, protective gear, and tucked into their clothing. Wearing it helps prevent harmful amounts of microscopic carcinogenic particles generated by burning materials from being absorbed by their skin. These particles can travel through traditional knitted hoods and accumulate on absorptive areas of the neck, jaw, and throat.

He knew, through a 2002 study by the United States Firefighter Cancer Support Network, that firefighters have a 61 percent greater likelihood of dying from cancer than the regular population. For every five degree Fahrenheit increase in body temperature, the skin contamination rate increases by 400 percent.

He and another firefighter bought and tested a Gray Particulate Blocking Hood from manufacturer Innotex. Their product offers two layers of protection, are thicker and larger than traditional hoods covering more of the firefighters face and upper body. It features an elastic sewn face opening that provides a better protective seal and has a longer drop to cover more of the chest, shoulder, and neck. The hoods are also machine-washable and can be reused up to 100 times.

Morwick, also on the unit’s health and safety team, had them added to their standard kit of protective safety gear.

“I am glad we now have more protection,” he says. “The members of our team all have families and children to go home to at the end of our shifts, so it is nice to have another protective measure that decreases our risk of contracting work-related cancer.”

For his efforts, he was awarded a base Commander’s Bravo Zulu and coin

“We are very proud of Curt in spearheading this successful effort to help make our workplace safer,” said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Crisp. “Our crews now have added piece of mind when responding to calls and it wouldn’t have been possible without the diligence of Curt and other members of our firefighting team who made this happen.”

A view of one of the new protective particulate-blocking hoods now worn by Morwick and other firefighters when responding to fires and other emergencies. Photo by: CFB Esquimalt Fire and Rescue

A view of one of the new protective particulate-blocking hoods now worn by Morwick and other firefighters when responding to fires and other emergencies. Photo by: CFB Esquimalt Fire and Rescue

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Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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