Step in the right direction: Decontamination of PPE must include boots

Step in the right direction: Decontamination of PPE must include boots

Shoes can be gross. We wear them everywhere. They collect everything – dirt, bacteria, germs, chemicals and mold spores, just to name a few – as we wear them throughout the day. And, then, most of us walk straight into our homes without removing them, only to transfer all that contamination to our carpets and rugs. GROSS DECONTAMINATION OF FIREFIGHTER BOOTS Imagine what your firefighting and station boots track into the station: road debris, petroleum residue, contaminated mud and dirt, blood and body fluids. While many fire stations have non-carpeted surfaces for easy cleaning, most dormitory areas are still carpeted. So, what’s in your carpet? Hopefully, your fire department prohibits bunker pants and boots in the living quarters of your station. But, do you still walk into the kitchen at 2:00 a.m. after returning from a call wearing your bunker pants and boots? Be honest. We’re paying more attention to conducting gross decontamination of our firefighting protective ensemble components before leaving the fire scene, and that’s a good thing. But what about your firefighting boots? Are they getting a good scrubbing, and not just a rinse from the water flowing down from above? WHAT DO THE GUIDELINES SAY ABOUT CLEANING FIREFIGHTER BOOTS? NFPA 1851: Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting doesn’t provide specific guidelines for cleaning firefighter boots to the degree that the standard addresses cleaning for turnout coats and pants. According to Pat Freeman, technical services manager at Globe Manufacturing, for normal cleaning, such as surface debris from a structural fire, Globe advises their customers to use a soft sponge or rag with...
Globe Invited to Present at iWomen Conference

Globe Invited to Present at iWomen Conference

Globe has been invited to present at the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Service (iWomen) Conference being held May 24-26, 2018 in Fairfax County, Virginia. The iWomen Conference is hosted by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and includes a workshop titled “Where Research and Firefighting Experience Come Together to Develop the Future of Personal Protective Equipment.” Between the years of 2010 and 2014, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that female firefighters experienced an average of 1,260 injuries on the fireground each year (NFPA, 2017). The concern is that some of these injuries can be attributed to poorly fitting and functioning turnout gear. Through this session, firefighters will gain more awareness of current turnout gear performance challenges and participate in a process to improve the safety and design of future turnout gear for women. Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager, will present Globe’s research and design development of NFPA-certified turnout gear for female firefighters. Although NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, requires a female pattern in stated sizes, and manufacturers have been meeting these minimum requirements for years, many female firefighters are still getting gear that doesn’t fit well. Pat will discuss the many dimensions of fit, including the Globe exclusive dimension of shape. The key to proper fit is gear that comes in different shapes, not just sizes. For more information about the iWomen Conference, visit...
Are You a Tactical Athlete?

Are You a Tactical Athlete?

By Todd J. LeDuc, MS, CFO, FIFirE, Assistant Chief with Broward County (FL) Fire Rescue You may have heard the term “tactical athlete” a lot recently. The term itself is not confined to the fire service and firefighters but other high-risk professions such as the military. The United States Marine Corp (U.S.M.C.) defines a “tactical athlete” as an individual who trains for combat readiness using a comprehensive athletic approach. Tactical athletes use all facets of strength, power, speed, and agility to improve their combat fitness level to their highest potential. The Marine Corps recognize that using speed and agility training will improve maneuverability of an individual in a combat situation such as maneuvering under fire. Additionally, focusing on power lifting exercises in a training regime improves total body power and increasing success in combat engagement. The U.S.M.C. has also added “High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT)” to enhance operational fitness levels and optimize combat readiness and resiliency for the essential tasks that Marines are expected or likely to need to be able to perform in combat. Firefighting is a rigorous profession and the essential job functions that firefighters are called upon to conduct impacts nearly everybody system. Our actions on the fireground physiologically stress many responses that respond differently than from a homeostatic state. Below are some of the systems affected: Cardiovascular Hematological Thermoregulatory Respiratory Metabolic Immune/endocrine Nervous Muscular Firefighters essential job functions are measured in “MET” values or “Metabolic Equivalent of a Task.” This is the rate of oxygen consumption during a task as compared to resting, and can be used to compare levels of exertion across various types...
How to Clean, Maintain & Store PPE

How to Clean, Maintain & Store PPE

By Patricia Freeman, Technical Services Manager, Globe Manufacturing Company Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. The following requirements are per NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, 2014 Edition. It should be noted that this standard is a comprehensive user document, and all fire personnel should read it to get a fuller picture of PPE cleaning, maintenance, and storage. The proper way to perform advanced cleaning (machine washing) Front loading washing machines (aka extractors) are preferable. Do not overload the machine. Pre-treat heavily soiled or spotted areas. Do not use chlorine bleach, chlorinated solvents, active-ingredient cleaning agents, or solvents without element manufacturer’s approval. Separate outer shells from liners, remove drag rescue devices and suspenders, and wash independently. Turn the liner system inside out. All closures (zippers, hook and D-rings, plush and loop) must be fastened prior to laundering. Water temperature should not exceed 105 degrees F. Use mild detergent (pH factor of 6.0 to 10.5), as indicated on safety data sheet or product container. Adjust the washing machine so that the g-force does not exceed 100 g (follow machine manufacturer instructions for proper setting or program selection). Inspect after cleaning and rewash if necessary. If the machine is also used to launder items other than protective ensemble elements, the machine must be rinsed out by running the machine without a laundry load through a complete cycle with detergent and filled to the maximum level with water at a temperature of 120°F to 125°F. Dry in an area...
Fundamental changes needed to address turnout gear contamination

Fundamental changes needed to address turnout gear contamination

In a recent meeting of the technical committee responsible for revision of NFPA 1851: Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, extensive discussion revolved around proposing modifications in how turnout clothing should be cleaned and, in particular, verified for removal efficiency of harmful contaminants. Changes have been recommended for moving forward with more frequent advanced cleaning of turnout clothing (At this stage, the changes have only been proposed. Ratification of the changes does not occur until the committee has formally voted on the overall standard.) Whereas the current edition of NFPA 1851 prescribes advanced cleaning to be performed at least annually, the new edition, if accepted, will require advanced cleaning at least twice a year. This means that those departments that follow NFPA 1851 will be conducting more frequent cleaning of their gear than in the past several years. AN EMPHASIS ON FREQUENT FIREFIGHTER GEAR CLEANING It must be pointed out that the NFPA 1851 standard has always indicated that firefighter clothing and equipment should be cleaned whenever it becomes soiled or contaminated. That requirement exists both in the current edition, as well as in the new edition. What is changing for the 2019 edition of NFPA 1851 is the fact that more frequent advanced cleaning is being prescribed for turnout clothing in general. Part of this change involves the promotion of language which indicates that exposure to the products of combustion represents contamination. Therefore, whether visibly soiled or not, the standard will be dictating advanced cleaning of clothing that is worn on the fireground. In addition to the increased frequency of...
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...