How to Wash Turnout Gear? Fire-End Offers Tips

Washing Turnout Gear

Your turnout gear goes through a lot, just as it was made too. But, in order to maintain its protective properties, there are protocols that should be followed when it comes to keeping it clean. You can enhance your fire department’s safety, and extend the life of your PPE and gear through regular cleaning, inspection, and repair with LION TotalCare. Remember, washing turnout gear isn’t anything like doing residential, daily laundry.

Can I Wash My Turnout Gear at Home?

While it may be tempting to wash turnout gear at home, don’t. First, your state or department may have rules in place against home cleaning. Remember, the proper care and maintenance of turnout clothing is the responsibility of the firefighter and the fire department. Second, a commercial extractor will be much more effective in removing contaminants on your turnout gear. Third, you don't want contaminants in the same washing machine that’s used by others in the household. Lastly, the warranty on your residential washing machine could be null and void if you use the machine for such a purpose. Furthermore, do not use commercial dry cleaning as a means of cleaning turnout gear.

How Often Should I Wash my Turnout Gear?

Always follow the NFPA 1851-2014, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. This recommends bi-annual Advanced Cleaning of all issued bunker gear by a Verified Independent Service Provider (verified ISP) of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) care and maintenance.

Turnout Gear Levels of Cleaning.

Here are the 3 levels of turnout gear cleaning you will want to follow:
  • Routine Cleaning – Light cleaning by the end-user, usually a surface cleansing with rinsing and air drying away from direct sunlight. This way, gear remains in service. Remember, when conducting routine cleaning of firefighter apparel, wear protective gloves and eye/face splash protection. Also, gently scrub the apparel with a bristle brush in a utility sink.
  • Advanced Cleaning – Washing with cleaning agents by trained personnel verified ISP. You need to take the garments out of service.
  • Decontamination – Removal of contamination (chemical or biological) by a verified ISP. Again, you need to take your turnout gear out of service.
If blood or other bodily fluids, tars, oils, resins, paints, acids, or other chemicals contaminate your turnout gear, an advanced cleaning is needed. Always check the instructions on how to perform an advanced cleaning, which can be found on the garments’ labels. LION provides turnout gear to seven of the 10 largest fire departments in the U.S., and 50 of the largest 100 departments. Without a doubt, the LION Fire Academy is a great resource for detailed instruction on turnout gear advanced cleaning as well as advanced inspection.

How Hot Should the Water Be When Washing Turnout Gear?

It should be noted, that the temperature of the washing water should not be above 105°F or it may harm the protective properties of your gear. Besides temperature, the verified ISP should wash the gear on a normal cycle and double-rinsed. In addition, the NFPA 1851 Standard recommends only using a front-loading machine.

What Detergent Should I Use on my Turnout Gear?

The verified ISP will use a commercially available cleaning product specifically made for firefighter turnout gear specialized cleaning. Do not use chlorine bleach on turnout gear or any protective clothing.  Cleaning solutions should have a pH range between 6.0 and 10.5. Moreover, using improper cleaning solutions may compromise the performance properties of your turnout gear. Fire-End prides itself on being a one-stop-shop for fire safety apparel and gear. Thus, our products are used throughout the world and we strive to meet all fire protection needs. Call us at 800-759-FIRE(3473) for a quote to meet your fire department’s needs.

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