Learning to maintain your firefighting turnout gear is important. It's a responsibility that doesn't come easy. Proper care and maintenance will save your department money and better protect all personnel.
Maintaining gear starts with becoming familiar with each component that makes up the overall equipment. This will help in instances when repairs need to be made. If you are familiar with what things should look like and how they should perform, the slightest difference will be noticeable.
Once you've become fully familiar with every single part of your turnout gear, you can then inspect it after each use without worrying that you won't recognize a problem if you see one. If there's something wrong with the inner layer, it's possible you won't find it right off, but anything visible should be noticeable.
Be sure to follow the NFPA manufacturer's instructions when it comes to cleaning, repairing and restoring. They also have a procedure for inspections before use, after use and after cleaning properly.
The NFPA requires three different types of cleaning. It's important to do each of these when they are necessary to ensure maintenance is properly done. The three types of cleaning are routine, advanced and specialized.
Caring for gear starts at the very beginning of firefighting training programs. Entry-level firefighters should learn how to properly wear, inspect, clean and maintain their gear.
As we mentioned, there are three types of cleanings that should be done periodically. Routine cleanings are done after emergency situations. This type of cleaning is essential for getting contamination off immediately. Then, cleaning as normal can take place.
Advanced cleanings can be done once a year. They should be done even more frequently if heavily soiled gear becomes a problem. If odor is an issue, advanced cleaning should be done, as well.
Make sure to always use the correct type of laundry machine for each washing and drying. You should never wash turnout gear in a residential washer that is typically used for uniforms, bedsheets and more. Use the equipment that is specifically designed for turnout gear. Also use a detergent that has been approved by the manufacturer and the NFPA.
We hope these tips help you maintain your fire gear not only for your safety, but also to help save your firehouse money. Properly cleaned and maintained gear will last much longer than equipment that is not.
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