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Why do firefighters need to wash their turnout gear?

Posted by Brian Moke on Oct 12th 2023

Why do firefighters need to wash their turnout gear?

Firefighters need to wash their turnout gear for several important reasons:

  1. Contaminant Removal: Firefighters' turnout gear comes into contact with various contaminants during firefighting operations. This can include soot, ash, chemicals, and potentially hazardous materials. These contaminants can be harmful and may contain carcinogens or other harmful substances. Regular washing helps remove these contaminants, reducing the risk of exposure to toxins.
  2. Improved Safety: Clean turnout gear functions better and provides greater safety. Gear that is not regularly cleaned may have reduced flame-resistant properties, which can compromise a firefighter's protection in a fire. Clean gear also allows for better mobility and comfort.
  3. Health Protection: Firefighters are at risk of skin and respiratory issues when exposed to dirty and contaminated gear. Regular cleaning helps reduce the likelihood of skin irritation or respiratory problems associated with dirty gear.
  4. Prolonged Gear Lifespan: Firefighting gear is expensive and needs to last a long time. Regular cleaning and maintenance help extend the lifespan of turnout gear, reducing the need for frequent replacements and saving money for fire departments.
  5. Compliance with Standards: Many fire departments and firefighting organizations have specific standards and guidelines regarding the cleaning and maintenance of turnout gear. Following these standards is essential to ensure that gear is in proper working order and meets safety requirements.
  6. Preventing Cross-Contamination: Dirty gear can carry contaminants from one fire scene to another, potentially spreading hazardous materials or contaminants. Cleaning gear helps prevent cross-contamination between incidents.
  7. Comfort and Performance: Clean gear is more comfortable to wear and allows firefighters to perform their duties more effectively. Dirty gear can become heavy, restrict movement, and impede performance.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of turnout gear are critical to the safety and well-being of firefighters. Fire departments typically have established protocols for cleaning and inspecting gear to ensure it is in the best possible condition for each firefighting operation.