The Continuing Debate on Turnout Gear Service Life

The Continuing Debate on Turnout Gear Service Life

Over the past several years, we have written various columns associated with the care and maintenance of firefighter protective clothing and equipment. One of the perennial issues on this topic has been gear service life. In many cases, this particular topic has been a subject of polarization among the fire service, particularly when it comes to firefighter helmets. In this month’s column, we attempt to shed more light on this topic to allow fire departments and individual firefighters to make better informed choices with respect to their gear service life. All clothing and equipment have a finite service life. For the most part, turnout gear is designed to be quite durable, made with rugged materials that are intended to repeatedly provide protection under a wide range of varying exposure conditions. By definition, service life is the length of time that clothing and equipment can remain in service while still providing a minimum level of protection. Nevertheless, even brand new gear that is subject to a serious fire event can require immediate retirement. Similarly, gear that is abused or improperly cared for can also lead to a shortened service life. The interpretation of service life will further depend on an individual organization’s understanding of what factors constitute continued safe usability of clothing and equipment, which can also be influenced by available resources. Yet, since 2008, NFPA 1851: Selection, Care and Maintenance of Structural Firefighting Protective Clothing has imposed a 10-year service life limit based on the element manufacturing date for any structural firefighting ensemble element, including garments, helmets, gloves, footwear and hoods. The reality of turnout gear service life Every...
Departments in OR and VT Receive Turnouts through the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Departments in OR and VT Receive Turnouts through the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Thanks to Globe by MSA and DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), two more fire departments are each receiving four new sets of state-of-the-art turnout gear. Since 2012, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has annually partnered with Globe and DuPont to provide volunteer fire departments in need with new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to better protect our nation’s responders. The latest recipients are the Gardiner (OR) Rural Fire Department and the Salisbury (VT) Volunteer Fire Department. Gardiner (OR) Rural Fire Department Gardiner is a small community of 425 residents on the coast of Oregon. The department’s 10 firefighters make do with turnout gear that is nearly 20 years old and doesn’t comply with industry standards. The town papermill had supplied Gardiner’s firefighters with some gear, but the closing of the mill has left the department to rely solely on tax dollars. The department often hosts fundraising breakfasts and dinners to raise money but is unable to purchase new gear on its current budget. “We are volunteers, we are here to serve and protect our residents and surrounding area, and we are dedicated to what we do,” said Chief John Swann. “Receiving the Globe gear will really help build morale amongst my crew and improve safety. Thank you very much for thinking of our [volunteer] departments.” Salisbury (VT) Volunteer Fire Department Located in the foothills of the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department protects 1,500 residents over 30 square miles. Only half of the department’s 20 firefighters have turnout gear at all. Those who do are wearing gear that is over 10 years old, making them unsafe according to...
Globe Discusses PPE on iWomen Talk Radio Show

Globe Discusses PPE on iWomen Talk Radio Show

  Globe was invited to participate in a talk radio show hosted by the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services to discuss the importance of personal protective equipment. Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager, and Stephanie McQuade, Globe Marketing Services Manager, addressed the construction and materials for turnout gear, proper care and cleaning, and the importance of being fitted correctly for PPE. Other guests included Linsey Griffin, Assistant Professor Wearable Product Design, Human Dimensioning Lab at the College of Design, University of Minnesota and Susan Sokolowski, Director & Associate Professor, Sports Product Design, at University of Oregon Portland. They spoke about their women’s PPE research project with a group of 12 universities in the United States. Listen to the talk radio show on FireEngineering.com An interactive non-profit network, International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Service (iWomen) provides education, support and advocacy for fire service women. For more information, visit...
Three More Recipients Announced in the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Three More Recipients Announced in the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

  Globe by MSA, in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), is giving away 52 sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to 13 volunteer fire departments in need through the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway program. Now in its seventh year, the program works to enhance the safety and capabilities of small-town fire departments across the U.S. and Canada. Recipients are being announced monthly throughout the year. The latest recipients are the Ben Lomond (CA) Fire Protection District, the New Victoria (NS, Canada) Fire Department, and the Huntington Volunteer Fire Company (Phillipsburg, NJ). Ben Lomond (CA) Fire Protection District The Ben Lomond Fire Protection District (BLFD)is an all-volunteer fire department with one paid chief. BLFD volunteers respond to an average of 500 calls per year involving structure fires, wildland fires, vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, public services, and more. All 35 responders are currently using turnout gear that is nearly 15 years old and not compliant with recommended safety standards. Due to obligations such as station repairs, apparatus replacement, and the need for new self-contained breathing apparatuses, securing new turnouts has been put on hold. “[This donation of] Globe gear would provide a fresh set of turnouts for our top responding volunteers,” said BLFD Engineer Dan Arndt. “This would not only help ensure our firefighters’ safety, it would also reward our responders for their commitment to the community.” New Victoria (NS, Canada) Fire Department The New Victoria Fire Department is located on the mouth of Sydney Harbour in the most northeastern part of Nova Scotia. The department responds to an average of 120 calls...
First Recipients Announced for the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

First Recipients Announced for the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

  Since 2012, Globe by MSA, DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to provide 403 sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to fire departments in need – a value of over $920,000. An additional 13 departments will each receive four sets of gear in 2018. “MSA and Globe’s mission is to see to it that men and women live and work in safety and health, and that speaks to the heart of exactly why we’re proud to support the NVFC,” said Globe chief operating officer Tom Vetras. “Firefighters deserve nothing less than the very best personal protective equipment. Our Globe Gear Giveaway program – in partnership with DuPont – is just one of the ways we’re happy to support the many NVFC initiatives that help improve volunteer firefighters’ overall health, wellness, and safety.” “Having standards-compliant, well-fitting gear is a critical component to keeping firefighters safe, healthy, and ready to respond,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “We appreciate the efforts and generosity of Globe, MSA, and DuPont to help departments keep our boots on the ground safe and protected through this invaluable program.” The first two recipients of the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway are the Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department and Cedar Fort (UT) Volunteer Fire Department. Hindman (KY) Volunteer Fire Department The Hindman Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) protects 2,000 residents in Hindman, KY, located in the eastern part of the state. The department is currently celebrating 50 years of dedicated service to its community. While funding for the department has decreased over the years due to a waning coal industry from...
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...