Date of Award

12-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Safety Sciences

First Advisor

Jan Wachter

Second Advisor

Tracey Cekada

Third Advisor

Majed Zreiqat

Abstract

Firefighters are exposed to life-threatening hazards at a greater quantity than the modern workforce. Firefighting is a dangerous profession; due to the changes in building materials, modern day furnishings, and building designs, firefighters are exposed to more toxins than before. This study examines Fire Chiefs’ current level of knowledge and understanding of fire toxicity, in particular, related to CO and HCN and thus infers if the current curriculum for Firefighter I provides an adequate understanding on this topic, or if further specialized training may be required. It also identifies the current level of knowledge and understanding of the appropriate actions to safeguard firefighters from toxic gas exposure.

This descriptive research utilized a survey method for gathering data from the 653 fire chiefs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The respondents exhibited a higher level of knowledge and understanding for CO than for HCN; a test score of 70.7 versus 66.5, respectfully. Respondent’s level of knowledge of safeguards that protect against CO and HCN exposure is reflected by a mean test score of 75.5. A statistically significant difference (t(40) = 2.97, p = .005, d = .93) was recognized in the educational levels of the Fire Chiefs and their knowledge of CO and HCN hazards. Additionally, a significant difference (t(41) = 4.00, p = .000, d = 1.36) exists between the certification levels of the fire chiefs and their knowledge of CO and HCN hazards. However, it was concluded that a significant relationship does not exist between the experience level of the fire chiefs and their knowledge of CO and HCN. It is also determined that factors such as the classification, the size of the department, and the department’s community do not influence Fire Chiefs’ level of knowledge regarding the hazards associated with CO and HCN.

Sixty-four percent of the Fire Chiefs in the Commonwealth of Virginia do not believe that the current curriculum for Firefighter I is adequate for conveying an understanding of the hazards associated with exposure to CO and HCN and 95.6% of the Fire Chiefs believe that additional training is necessary to safeguard firefighters.

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