Firefighters may be involved in salvage and overhaul operations following extinguishment of fires. Salvage and overhaul include looking for hidden sources of fire and protecting valuables from fire and water damage.


Following the extinguishment of fires, products of combustion may create a hazardous atmosphere. During salvage and overhaul, respiratory exposure is a common risk to firefighters. Toxicity levels from the fire may be at their worst during the smoldering phase.

There are also a number of other risks to firefighters during salvage and overhaul, such as slips, trips and falls or the collapse of unstable structures.

Actions for employers

Employers must:

  • make firefighters aware of the hazards of salvage and overhaul operations
  • train firefighters on working safely during salvage and overhaul operations

Employers should:

  • ensure that firefighters wear personal protective equipment, including appropriate respiratory protection and skin protection, during salvage and overhaul operations
  • ensure that risks are continuously assessed during salvage and overhaul
  • develop procedures for salvage and overhaul

Safety considerations during salvage and overhaul

Consider the following when developing procedures for salvage and overhaul operations:

  • structural integrity of the building
  • risk of sprains, strains and other physical injuries
  • contamination through inhalation, ingestion, sharps or contact with contaminants, toxins or potential carcinogens such as asbestos
  • isolating gas and electricity if possible
  • ventilation should be ongoing until salvage and overhaul activities have been completed
  • monitoring physical stress
  • provision of rehabilitation

Applicable regulations and acts


Applicable standards

For guidance on the administration of an effective respiratory protection program, fit testing protocols and training requirements, read CSA Standard Z94.4 Selection, use and care of respirators


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