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Volunteer Fire Department

Oct 24 2019

HKers have been dousing teargas for a few months now. Let’s look at our firefighters' gear, methods, & tips for those affected by tear gas.

All below are rough translations of existing protest pamphlets from TG.

Basic firefighter gear

Must-have: Swim goggles Respirator Heat-resistant gloves (oven mitts are best) OR BBQ tongs

Clothing: Long-sleeves suggested. For male volunteers, be wary about loose pant legs because smoke can run up and … it hurts

Water: Vital, 2L suggested

To douse or not to douse?

Best to consider whether environment is safe before putting out teargas. Where canisters are too far from the frontline, it’s not advisable for firefighters to rush out alone, especially when the police are nearby.

Firefighting strategy 1 - Waterproof bag (Solo) Recommended: 5* (Out of 5) Fill waterproof bag abt 1/3 full of water. Throw teargas in bag w/ gloved hands, roll up the top to make sure no leaks, & then SHAKE!

See video below to see it in action.

Firefighting strategy 2 - Traffic cone (Team) Recommended: 5* (Out of 5) Contain the teargas with the cone, and then pour water into the cone until it’s out.

See video below to see it in action.

Firefighting strategy 3 - The Dish (Solo) Recommended: 4* (Out of 5) Any big metal dish would do. Useful to step on the dish with one foot to make sure there are no leaks. A con of this tactic is that it takes a long time until the teargas goes out - about 2-3 minutes.

Firefighting strategy 4 - Water bottle/ Thermos (Solo) Recommended: 3* (Out of 5) Ensure mouth of water bottle/ thermos is wider enough for the teargas. Fill it 1/3 to 1/2 full with water or sand/mud/salt. Throw the teargas in and shake.

Firefighting strategy 5 - Water (Solo/ Team) Recommended: 2* (Out of 5) Just pour water on it; ideally bring a 2L bottle. Don’t waste water, best to wait a few seconds to ascertain teargas’ position before rushing out. Can also add a wet towel to cover the teargas.

Firefighting strategy 6 - Throw it back (Solo) Recommended: 2* (Out of 5) It looks good, but not recommended, as it’s too easy to accidentally hit other people and journalists, or ricochet back.

Firefighting strategy 7 - Tennis racket (Solo) Recommended: 1* (Out of 5) It looks super cool, but it’s hard to execute in practise given speed of cannister's flight. Unless you’re a tennis pro, not recommended, as there are more effective methods to out out teargas.

Other firefighting tips & suggestions Umbrellas - Good way to stop and deflect teargas’ trajectory. Also, useful shield as getting hit by a cannister hurts.

If you get teargassed… in the streets (1) Cover mouth and nose with wet towel or clothing and leave affected area immediately. If eyes are irritated, use water or saline to rinse - don’t use your hands to touch your eyes!

...If skin is irritated, use cold water w/ soap to wash. If you wear contacts, take them off immediately after washing your hands. Once in a safe place, take off your clothes, separate them from other garments to avoid contamination, and wash immediately.

If you get teargassed… indoors Close windows. Turn off ventilation/ exhaust fans (including A/Cs). Throw away food that may be contaminated. See the Eng leaflet below for more - warning, Pepe the frog is in it. It doesn’t have the same connotations in HK as in the West.

If you get teargassed… and you’re a pet Tell your hoomin to take you away from the affected area immediately. And make them read the English leaflet below on how to look after you and make sure you’re ok.

Update, Nov 14 2019

HKers have been eating teargas for months now, and some health effects are starting to manifest. We also have a better idea of some of the toxic stuff that gets released - and stays on stuff - so, some new materials on how to clean up have been released.

  1. Don’t clean the teargas residue from the streets on your own without protective gear, as dioxin can’t be broken down by just water, bleach etc.

  1. If your home is affected by teargas, use room-temperature water to clean, as hot water and bleach could cause chemical reaction with the residue and release toxins.

  1. Teargas residue cannot be entirely washed away, and in fact can contaminate washing machine and other clothes. Just throw the clothing away. If clothing only light affected, handwash separately multiple times. Throw away affected baby clothes immediately.