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03 Jul 2024

Contamination comparison between traditional firefighting and fire gas cooling / PPE before entering

Lena Håkansson, BSc Fire Protection Eng Anders Trewe, BSc Eng, BSc BA
Cold Cut Academy
Release date

Firefighters operate in hazardous environments where exposure to toxic and carcinogenic substances in fire gases poses significant health risks, including increased incidences of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

LogoThe attached report studies the effectiveness of the SAVE Tactic (Scan, Attack, Ventilate, Enter), deploying ultra-high-pressure water mist and controlled ventilation before entering and retaking the fire compartment, in reducing toxic exposure compared to traditional breathing apparatus (BA) internal attacks. 

The SAVE tactic significantly reduced the magnitude of contaminants and improved air quality, visibility within the fire compartment and temperature, suggesting a safer working environment for firefighters. 

Cold Cut Systems conducted comparative tests at the Guttasjön Fire Fighting Training Facility in Sweden in 2023, using a 40-foot container as the fire compartment. 


The tests evaluated two firefighting methods: 


  • the conventional standard operation BA-attack and 

  • the SAVE tactic, which involves cooling fire gases externally with water mist (sprayed into the fire room through a small hole with minimal introduction of oxygen) and ventilating the fire compartment before firefighter entry. Firefighters' exposure to contaminants was measured using samples from their protective equipment and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). 


Results from the initial tests in July 2023 showed inconclusive differences due to procedural deviations.  This showed the importance of ventilating the cooled gases, since the levels of toxic contaminants in the cooled smoke was at the same level as if using traditional methods.

However, subsequent tests in December, where proper SAVE procedure were followed, showed a clear reduction in contaminant levels, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as phenanthrene and fluoranthene. 

Future research should include validation of the results and for instance comparative studies of physical absorption of substances between standard BA-attack and the SAVE tactic to highlight effects of a change in work-methods. The results underline the importance of tactical measures to minimize health risks and improve operational efficiency and safety in firefighting. 


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This corporate study has been produced and paid for by CTIF's Associate member Cold Cut Systems and is meant to demonstrate the effectiveness of the SAVE Tactic, for the benefit of all firefighters, regardless of what brand of tools they use. Although the tool used in the study is a Cold Cut Cobra high pressure lance, the findings in  the report could likely be applied to, and used with, other types of high pressure tools as well.