Firefighting and Carbon Monoxide Awareness
When fuels such as wood, composites, and furniture burn incompletely, carbon monoxide (CO) is dispersed into the surrounding atmosphere, posing significant risks to firefighters attempting to extinguish fires in a dwelling or structure. Firefighters are taught that heat, oxygen deprivation, and carbon monoxide are the primary threats to life in residential structure fires, but the highest levels of CO are found at floor levels — where firefighters are typically located during firefighting — and at the ceiling.
In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine showed that 76% of the readings taken in a series of house fires exceeded the permissible exposure limit of 50 ppm, with the highest reading being 1,424 ppm, well above the "immediately dangerous to life and health" level of 1,200 ppm.
Simply put, the danger of exposure to CO in a structure on fire is significant.