6 Myths About Cleaning, Maintenance & Storage of PPE

6 Myths About Cleaning, Maintenance & Storage of PPE

By Patricia Freeman, Technical Services Manager, Globe Manufacturing Company The fire service has become extremely health conscious ‒ and rightly so. Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. However, there are some misconceptions about PPE that could hamper a firefighter’s ability to take a health-focused approach to these topics. With that in mind, let’s dispel a few myths with facts. Myth #1:  If I launder my gear too frequently, it will lose some of its flame resistance.  FACT:  The outer shell, thermal liner, and moisture barrier fabrics that make up your three-layer turnout system, regardless of manufacturer, will NOT lose heat or flame resistance regardless of how many times they are laundered. These characteristics are inherent to the base fibers, which means they cannot be washed out, worn out, or dissipate with use. Myth #2:  Dirty gear is the sign of a seasoned veteran. FACT:  Dirty gear is the sign of an uninformed firefighter. The truth is that the byproducts of combustion are combustible. Even with the inherent characteristics, flame and heat resistance can be compromised if the garment is worn in an extremely soiled condition. For example, a fiber such as PBI (Polybenzimidazole) will not normally ignite unless in the presence of a super oxygen-enriched environment. However, if a PBI fabric was dipped in diesel fuel and then subjected to flame, the fuel would burn until there was nothing left, resulting in the PBI shell fabric becoming totally consumed. Additionally, firefighters are subjected to many different chemicals and contaminants, all of which can be absorbed into the protective gear...
IAFF Cancer Summit: Things Need to Change

IAFF Cancer Summit: Things Need to Change

Cancer is one of the biggest issues facing the fire service and a leading cause of death among firefighters. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is conducting a Cancer Summit on Thursday, February 1, immediately following their Affiliate Leadership Training Summit and Human Relations Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The one-day event will cover a vast array of topics, including the science linking cancer and firefighting, firefighting exposures, current research on the effects of this exposure, and new research on the fight against cancer. Globe is proud to collaborate with the IAFF and our supplier partners to raise awareness of the cancer risks faced by firefighters and to engage in research-based education initiatives to help keep them safe and healthy throughout their careers and in retirement. More information and registration is at...
Balancing Firefighter Protection Is Like a 3-Dimensional Chess Game

Balancing Firefighter Protection Is Like a 3-Dimensional Chess Game

By Rob Freese, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Globe Manufacturing Company, now part of MSA The alarming rate of cancer diagnoses among firefighters is very real and very serious. What we know is that firefighters have an increased risk for several types of cancer. Fires produce hundreds of toxic compounds; and some are carcinogenic. Everyone in the fire industry is at least talking about it. And some are quick to market with what they think the answer might be. We cannot lose sight of the fact, however, that cardiac events remain the leading cause of duty-related deaths. Firefighting leads to significant cardiovascular strain. Sudden cardiac events account for approximately 45% of all LODDs in the United States each year. The solutions to both of these problems are complex and involve trade-offs. It would be relatively easy to make turnout gear into hazmat gear to help protect against cancer-causing particulates and gasses, but that degree of encapsulation would lead to dramatic increases in heat stress. And that gear would make the work of firefighting almost impossible, which leads to the third dimension of protection. Fighting fires is demanding, physical work requiring maximum athletic performance. To perform like an athlete, turnout gear has to enhance performance and allow for a full range of motion. Like a 3-dimensional chess game, all of the above must be taken into consideration. Today’s threats are more complex and so helping to keep firefighters safe has become considerably more challenging. Science-Based Research A “silver bullet” to solve this 3-dimensional dilemma has been elusive because first we must attain a deeper level of understanding. Meaningful, realistic...
[Video] How Your Bunker Gear Works

[Video] How Your Bunker Gear Works

Tactics in the fire service have changed. It used to be that firefighters stopped the fire at the building. But now they’re going in deeper to stop the fire at the room of origin. PPE is a critical line of defense against the dangerous environment in which firefighters perform their duties. Firefighters need training not only on the performance of their gear and proper donning and doffing but also on the limitations of their gear. This video will provide important information on: How bunker gear is designed to work Why fit is important The reasons to conduct a risk assessment before selecting gear How to properly inspect bunker...
Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

We once saw dirty firefighting coats and pants as badges of honor. Now the fire service is beginning to recognize that soiled or contaminated protective garments can expose firefighters to toxins and carcinogens, spread communicable disease, absorb radiant heat, conduct electricity and can be flammable. In short, clean PPE can help you live longer. NFPA 1851 says to evaluate gear after each use to determine the appropriate cleaning level. This includes instructions for routine cleanings at the scene and advanced cleaning at least once a year. To read the seven steps to clean firefighting turnout gear infographic, fill out the form below: Online Form – "How to clean your gear" infographic...
[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

The fire service has become extremely health conscious ‒ and rightly so. PPE is a critical line of defense against the dangerous environment in which firefighters perform their duties. Proper cleaning and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. This video will provide important guidelines on: The cleaning requirements set forth in NFPA 1851 The proper way to machine wash turnout gear Tips on drying turnout gear How and where to store your...