Introduction: Firefighters require communications with coordinating units and between other officers to carry out effective rescue, fire and civil protection operations.For this purpose different types of wireless professional communication devices (handset, transportable) and mobile phones are used. This article presents the characteristics of these devices, and discusses the related electromagnetic fields to which workers are exposed. Exposure to electromagnetic fields from handsets and mobile phones causes thermal effects inside the body as tissues and body fluids temperature increase due to absorption of electromagnetic field energy. A number of studies show that negative health effects related to use of such type of electromagnetic field sources may occur. Questionnaire studies realized by CIOP-PIB show that the firefighters use two professional communication systems: conventional (frequency band 147-174MHz) and trunked (380-450MHz). They also use three public communication systems: GSM 900, DCS 1800 and UMTS 2140. The conventional communication system is available for officers working in large urban and suburban units while the trunked communication system is actually available only in large urban areas. GSM 900, DCS 1800 and UMTS systems are used not only by the general public but also by the firefighters. Electromagnetic field exposure assessment of firefighters was carried out on the basis of the measurements of actual value of the electric and magnetic fields strength. Measurements were made in typical, realistic operating conditions including transmission and reception of information for all types of handsets used. The measurements and assessment of electric and magnetic fields generated by the professional wireless communication devices (handsets, transportable) showed that during transmission electric and magnetic fields of strength values of occupational exposure level (i.e. in which workers trained in safety principles related to work in the vicinity of field sources and who do not have health contraindication to work in such fields may remain) might be present in the vicinity of device. In the case of stationary professional wireless communication devices only electric and magnetic field strength values of the general public exposure (without limits for the general public and workers exposure) were found.

Keywords: wireless communication handsets, electromagnetic fields, conventional communication, trunked communication

Type of article: original scientific article