Fort Collins and Phoenix Wrap-Up

The Coalition presented “Know Your Smoke” in Fort Collins and Phoenix in February.   According to those who attend this training, it is “life-changing” and “life-saving.”  Here are a few of the highlights.

Phoenix Fire Department – Special Operations Center

During the burn smoke practical session, a 5-gallon lid was heated.  As you will see in the following video, with no smoke showing, only heat applied, the CO and HCN maxed.  Applying this to the everyday world, think about the kitchen fire with no smoke showing, when laminate cabinets and plastic handles on pans melted.  This is the type of fire that normally doesn’t generate concern or the need for air.  Think again.  Phoenix Burn Practical.


Poudre Fire Authority Training Center was the venue for Colorado.  During the burn / smoke practical session, instructors had the opportunity to use gas chromatography in addition to single gas HCN and CO meters.  The instrument used was a GUARDION™ manufactured by Smiths Detection and uses GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) technology.  The GC has the ability to separate complex mixtures and helps with identification, and the MS identifies the chemical.  The sampling was done using a SPME fiber.  SPME stands for solid phase micro extraction. In pictures included herewith sampling times varied from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  The results should create cause for concern for any firefighter who does not wear air.  Had air not been worn, you would have been exposed to:

2, 4 Tolulene Diisocyanate

According to, “2,4-Toluene diisocyanate is primarily used as a chemical intermediate in the production of polyurenthane products. 2,4-Toluene diisocyanate is extremely toxic from acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures. Acute exposure to high levels of 2,4-toluene diisocyanate in humans, via inhalation, results in severe irritation of the skin and eyes and affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems (CNS). Chronic inhalation exposure to 2,4-toluene diisocyanate in humans has resulted in significant decreases in lung function in workers, an asthma-like reaction characterized by wheezing, dyspnea, and bronchial constriction. Animal studies have reported significantly increased incidences of tumors of the pancreas, liver, and mammary glands from exposure to 2,4-toluene diisocyanate via gavage (experimentally placing the chemical in the stomach). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified 2,4-toluene diisocyanate as a Group 2B, possible human carcinogen.”

Aniline (benzenamine)

Short-term exposure to the substance irritates the eyes, and may cause effects on the blood: methaemoglobinaemia, resulting in cyanosis, brain damage and kidney failure. It is potentially lethal to humans. Long-term or repeated exposure may have effects on the liver, kidneys, blood and spleen: methemoglobanaemia (see short-term exposure).  Aniline (benzenamine) is a probable carcinogen.


Beyond the Tolulene and Benzenamine, there were 6 other unknown toxicants.

Participants had this to say about the program:

“Great class.  I now have a lot of information about meters and will start metering on all fire calls.”

“Very eye-opening experience.  My entire department needs to see this.”

“Excellent information for us to take back to educate our department.”

“Life changing.”

“Surprised at such high readings of HCN on such small burns – with little smoke.”



Fire Smoke Coalition | 6100 N. Keystone, Suite 624 | Indianapolis, IN 46220 | Direct Dial: 317.690.2542