First rescue using a smoke hood carried out by firefighters in Tyne and Wear

For the first time firefighters in Tyne and Wear have used a smoke hood when rescuing a person from a fire in Gateshead.

At the start of this year all fire engines at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service started carrying smoke hoods. The provision of smoke hoods was one of the key recommendations within the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report.

The hoods are designed to give those being rescued 15 minutes of protection from a smoke-filled atmosphere by providing clean air, thereby aiding their escape and lessening their chances of succumbing to smoke inhalation.

They assist firefighters when rescuing people from fires where the escape route is affected by a toxic gas and can give the officer in charge of an incident further options to conduct safe rescues.

Crews from Newcastle Central and Gateshead were called to a block of flats in the Teams area on Friday 29 May.

Control room operators passed survival guidance to a man who was located by firefighters in the bedroom of the flat. Firefighters placed the hood over his head and helped him to walk safely from the flat to a place of safety where he received medical attention.

The smoke hood, which is designed to be opened, deployed quickly and easily, is worn over the head and has a tight seal that prevents any smoke from getting in. The air that is inhaled enters through the filter which removes the toxic gases providing safe air for up to 15 minutes.

TWFRS Area Manager for Community Safety Richie Rickaby said: “Smoke from fires is extremely toxic and can render people unconscious within just a few breaths. Our crews were able to rescue this man, leading him to safety through a smoke-filled environment while preventing him from breathing in toxins.

“These hoods filter out four of the most dangerous gases, including what we call the ‘toxic twins’ of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

“These hoods are used by other fire services including London and Greater Manchester who have previously reported back positively on their effectiveness. We can use the smoke hoods to rescue casualties out through a smoke-filled area; providing the potential to conduct simultaneous rescues if required.”

Each frontline fire appliance has two hoods which are accessible to the firefighters wearing breathing apparatus for this type of rescue.