By: Hayden Hughes, Senior Sales Representative, Emergency Technical Decon
Maintaining clean turnout gear is one of the most important aspects of firefighter safety. The gear is designed to protect firefighters from the heat, flames, and other hazards that they encounter on the job. However, the gear can become contaminated with harmful substances and chemicals, making it essential for firefighters to regularly clean and maintain their gear to ensure its proper performance and to protect their health and safety.
There are many reasons why firefighters should keep their turnout gear clean. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1851 standard has outlined several key reasons why clean turnout gear is essential for firefighter safety.
1. Prevent Exposure to Harmful Contaminants
Harmful contaminants can accumulate on gear, such as soot, chemicals, and smoke. These contaminants can pose a significant health risk to firefighters, making it crucial to regularly clean gear to remove any trapped particles. Exposure to these harmful substances can lead to long-term health problems, such as cancer and respiratory issues.
2. Maintain the Performance of Turnout Gear
Turnout gear is designed to provide protection from heat and flames while still allowing firefighters to move freely. Dirty gear can impact the performance of the gear, reducing its ability to protect firefighters and potentially leading to serious injury. For example, if the protective lining of turnout gear becomes damaged, the gear may not provide sufficient protection from heat and flames, leaving firefighters vulnerable to injury.
3. Increase the Longevity of Gear
Turnout gear is a significant investment for fire departments, and proper cleaning and maintenance can help extend the life of gear and prevent the need for premature replacements. Cleaning gear regularly can help prevent damage and wear and tear on the gear, leading to longer-lasting, cost-effective gear.
4. Meet Regulatory Standards
NFPA 1851 states that turnout gear be regularly cleaned and maintained to meet specific performance and safety standards. Failing to maintain clean gear can result in regulatory penalties or legal issues. Fire departments can face penalties if they fail to meet these standards, making regular cleaning an essential part of firefighter safety and risk management.
CO2 Cleaning Technology
One of the most effective methods for cleaning turnout gear is through the use of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) cleaning technology. CO2 cleaning is a game-changing technology that provides a thorough and effective cleaning method for firefighters’ gear. Unlike traditional water-based cleaning methods, CO2 cleaning uses a dry cleaning process that is able to remove harmful contaminants and carcinogens without damaging the gear or reducing its effectiveness. Additionally, CO2 cleaning is a more eco-friendly option since it doesn’t require the use of water or harsh chemicals.
The NFPA has updated its guidelines in 2020 to require two advanced cleanings per year for all firefighters’ gear. This requirement highlights the importance of maintaining clean gear to ensure its proper performance and to protect the health and safety of firefighters. Fire departments should prioritize scheduling these advanced cleanings to keep gear clean and well-maintained.
Emergency Technical Decon is a leading provider of turnout gear cleaning services, utilizing the latest CO2 cleaning technology to provide a thorough and effective cleaning method for firefighters’ gear. Their CO2 cleaning process is able to remove harmful contaminants and carcinogens without damaging the gear or reducing its effectiveness. In addition, their technology allows for a faster turnaround time for cleaning services, ensuring that firefighters have access to clean, properly functioning gear when they need it most.
Maintaining clean turnout gear is critical for firefighter safety and health. Proper cleaning and maintenance of gear can prevent exposure to harmful contaminants, maintain gear performance, increase gear longevity, and meet regulatory standards. CO2 cleaning technology is an effective method for cleaning gear, and fire departments should prioritize scheduling advanced cleanings to keep gear clean and well-maintained.