OSHA looks at Chandler fire testing - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

OSHA looks at Chandler fire testing

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Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008 6:51 pm | Updated: 10:48 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Chandler Fire Department may be in violation of federal fire equipment testing laws, according to a complaint filed this week with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The complaint alleges the department did not complete annual fit testing on safety masks and seals, said department spokesman Dan Couch. All firefighters must test their masks yearly by hooking them up to a computer system that measures the amount of outside air seeping into the untouched air inside, he said.

Without this testing, Couch said firefighters could possibly inhale dangerous airborne carcinogens through their safety gear.

Early findings in an internal audit found that several firefighters had not completed a PowerPoint presentation or completed a quiz on the care and management of the mask, called a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus. The audit did not reveal whether any firefighters missed the mandatory fit training, he said.

Couch said some firefighters may miss fit testing days by being sick or out of building. He added that it is their "personal responsibility" to make up the testing.

The fire department has already planned to "be even more accountable" for individual mask testing by following records closely, Couch said.

"We didn't realize there was a problem until this came forward," Couch said, adding that they were not given any other information about the complaint or the person who filed the grievance.

The investigation into the fire department could take several weeks, according to Bill Wright, OSHA Arizona division assistant director.

Wright would not confirm the purpose of the investigation and would not say who filed the complaint.

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