It’s not a new issue, but the latest edition of New York magazine asks: What’s the best way to use your smoke grenades when you’re fighting fires?
It comes from the author of a forthcoming book called “The Smoke Bomb Handbook: How to Use Fire Suppression Grenades, and How to Avoid Being Drowned in Them.”
“The most common question I get is, ‘How can I know when I’m being used in a fire?'” he says.
“There are a few ways you can know: What color is the smoke?” he says, referencing the orange, red, or yellow flame.
“What’s the smoke trail?
If you can see it, you know it’s a smoke grenade.”
What to do with the smoke, if you have one, is the next question.
“If you’re in a blaze or smoke, you’re going to see it,” says Dr. Jonathan R. Harkins, a toxicologist who specializes in fires and emergency preparedness at the University of Pennsylvania.
“You’re going get a smoke trail, you’ve got a smoke bomb,” he says of the devices.
“When you’re looking for an escape route, if it’s coming from a fire, you want to be sure to have a smoke-resistant surface.”
A lot of people will use a smoke bag or a hosepipe, and the latter is great for getting rid of smoke, but what about when you have a fire coming at you?
Harkins says smoke-proofing is a good idea, but that you’re also going to want to make sure you have fire extinguishers nearby to deal with flames.
“The best way you can go is to have at least a three-person squad with the water extinguisher in the squad vehicle and in a nearby fire extinguisher, in case you’re getting in trouble,” he said.
“We have fire fighting equipment in our vehicle that’s pretty much smokeproof.
If you have smoke coming from the back seat, the fire extinguish it.”
Fire extinguishers are a must, says Dr Harkinson.
“These can be really effective,” he told New York.
“And if you’ve seen the video, you see that in the videos that I’ve seen.”
A fire extinguishing device can be handy if you’re stuck in a burning building, he says.
“If you are in a vehicle that is on fire and you’re not able to escape quickly, the best thing is to get your fire extinguiser,” he explained.
“So, I would say the first thing you’re gonna want to do is to try to get yourself out of the vehicle.”
Dr. R.R. Jackson, a firefighter in Los Angeles, agrees with Dr. Harkson’s advice.
“Always get your smoke extinguisher out of your vehicle and put it on your person,” he tells New York, adding that it’s best to carry one of the four fire extinguishes you can use.
“That will give you an idea of how much time you’re likely to have,” he adds.
The next step is to set up your kit.
“Set up the kit first so you know what kind of equipment you’re putting into your vehicle,” Jackson said.
You want to get a fire extinguishment kit, he said, because if you get in a crash you can’t get out.
“Once you get your kit, you’ll have your kit,” he added.
If you need to get away from a burning vehicle, Jackson recommends wearing a fire mask.
“I don’t think you want your mask on when you go out to your house, because the smoke is going to burn your face,” he explains.
You also want to have some fire extinguisers with you, but “that’s a very specific thing.
If it’s raining and you need fire extinguizers, you should have a little water extinguishers with you,” Jackson added.”
For me, I’m not going to be out in the rain, but I do have some kind of rain jacket on, so I can put that on.”
The next piece of gear you should be using is a mask.
The more you’re able to get out of a burning burning vehicle without getting hit by debris, the more you should use your mask.
You’re probably going to need to wear a mask if you see smoke coming out of buildings, and you want it to be a good fit.
“A good mask is not going a long way if it is on your face, so you want a good, full face mask,” Jackson says.
If it’s getting hotter than you like, Jackson advises using a mask that doesn’t get wet, as well as one that has a mesh in it, like one with a face shield or goggles.
“But if you do have a mask on, you probably want to wear it,” he advises.
“Just because you’re hot doesn’t mean it’s gonna get hot, and that’s OK,” he concludes.