Traditionally fire fighters have worn dirty Turn Out Gear as a badge of honour. Today this is starting to change due to the hazardous gases they encounter at every scene from hydrogen cyanide to benzene and other hazardous gases and materials which are present at most fires. Cleaning Turn out gear has become an essential part of a fireman’s health and safety regime.
Spray your gear off right after a fire scene
Spray down your Turn out gear directly after the incident. This will help remove much of the soot and debris that can contain harmful contaminants and carcinogens. You should also clean the rest of your gear as this will help reduce your risk of exposure to dangerous materials.
Lightly soiled gear
A routine cleaning program and spot cleaning your gear after daily activities will increase the longevity of the garments. When your entire garment requires cleaning, you should apply an advanced cleaning program in line with the garment manufactures guidelines. The cleaning guidelines should be clearly stated on the inside label of your Turn out gear.
When your gear is just lightly soiled, first brush off any dry debris, then gently rinse off remaining debris and other contaminants with plain water. Pre-treat heavily soiled areas using a mild detergent, gently scrub your gear with a soft bristle brush then thoroughly rinse gear in mild water. Air dry your gear in a well-ventilated area. The Turn out gear should not be left outside in the sun, if needed use a clothes dryer on the “air dry no heat” setting. Inspect your gear to ensure that it is clean and does not require advance cleaning.
Always check the manufactures guidelines before washing. Most manufacturers recommend Machine washing in a front-loading machine. Do not over load the machine. The optimum results are achieved with loads around 65% of the machines capacity. Use a mild detergent. Take note that contaminated gear should not be home washed. Never use a commercial dry cleaner.
Firefighting Turn out gear should undergo advanced cleaning at least once every 12 months. This is precautionary as the gear might appear clean, but not all dirty contaminants are visible to the naked eye and therefore expose the user to unnecessary dangers.
Contaminated with bodily fluids
If bodily fluids are present on your turn out gear it is advised that you act as if they are infectious. You should take extra precautions when cleaning the garment by using non-porous gloves and a face shield. The Turn out gear should be treated with the appropriate decontamination agent and thereafter follow the advanced cleaning procedures until the gear is clean.