Beware, your firehouse isn’t the safe refuge you thought it was. According to research from the University of Arizona, indicators of MRSA have been found on many fire station surfaces, particularly those that are frequently touched. Fire Chief Magazine has also put together a few stories on the subject.
The EMR-ISAC (Emergency Management and Response Information Sharing and Analysis Center) has provided some suggestions aimed at protecting first responders from MRSA infections:
- Replace cloth surfaces with hard surfaces when possible
- Check the label of cleaning products to ensure that they kill MRSA bacteria.
- Keep turnout gear in storage areas in accordance with NFPA 1581 – Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program
- Keep your station uniform and foot wear at the station and launder it on site. Limit the amount of clothing you bring home to your family.
- Drying your clothes in a traditional dryer for 28 minutes on high heat should be sufficient to kill MRSA (NOTE: Energy efficient cycles and dryers may not produce the heat necessary to kill MRSA)
- Most of all, WASH YOUR HANDS. This is the easiest and most effective way to limit the spread of MRSA.
We take enough risks in the fire service as it is. The last thing we need is to bring those risks home to our family. Do your part to keep everyone safe, kill MRSA.