FIRE PROOF escape hoods, designed to protect victims from smoke and fumes are now being carried on board all West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) emergency response vehicles.
The service’s 41 fire engines, 19 brigade response vehicles and a specialist breathing apparatus support unit are all equipped with the hoods.
Station Commander Richard Moore, of WMFS’ Response Team, said: “We aim to get to serious incidents in five minutes, because we know this increases your chances of survival.
“Our new fire escape hoods will provide vital extra protection to people who are unlucky enough to be caught in a fire and who need rescuing or leading to safety by our crews.”
Over the last five years, almost 700 people were rescued or led to safety by West Midlands firefighters. Many subsequently needed treating with oxygen or taking to hospital after breathing in smoke.
The recommendation all fire and rescue services had escape hoods came as part of Phase I of the Grenfell Tower inquiry and WMFS has carried out successful trials on the Dräger PARAT 5550 Fire Escape Hoods.
It is hoped that the hoods will mean far fewer people need treating for the effects of smoke.
Station Commander Moore added: “The smoke produced by fires contains a lot of harmful toxins.
“The hoods are designed to filter them out and stop you breathing them in.”
In the relevant situations firefighters will ask people to wear the hoods and check they are properly fitted and sealed so victims can see, breathe and talk as they pass through smoke-filled buildings safely.
Those wearing head coverings will have to take them off so the hoods can fit.
The self-contained fire escape hoods, which are fitted with air filters, allow the wearer to breathe safely in a smoke-filled atmosphere for up to 15 minutes.