OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) –Oklahoma Forestry Services firefighters recently took part in a smoke exposure study to help wildland firefighters breathe easier in the future.
The study, based out of the U.S. Forest Service's Technology and Development Center in Missoula, Montana, collected data from 11 firefighters while they conducted prescribed burns.
"Smoke inhalation is obviously a big issue for wildland firefighters and the more we learn about its effect, the safer we can make the job," said Oklahoma State Forester George Geissler. "We're pleased to have had the team from Missoula here and for our firefighters to have volunteered for such important research."
The five-year study looks at the air being inhaled by firefighters in relation to their work activity. Volunteers wear sensors and an air filter that measures temperature, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Pulse oximetry is also used to measure oxygen and carbon monoxide levels in the blood. All of the information is being collected from wildland firefighters across the country in an effort to better understand how smoke inhalation impacts their lives and to find a practical way to minimize the effect.
Researchers have learned one surprising thing already, smoke inhalation is worse during the clean-up stage of firefighting.
Oklahoma is the first southern state to participate in the study.