Turnout Gear Cleaning & Storage

By: Ready Rack | Date: 07-13-2020

Extend the life of your turnout gear and protect the health of your firefighters with specialized PPE cleaning and storage products from Ready Rack. Proper bunker gear maintenance not only prolongs the life of your expensive equipment but also ensures that this protective gear functions appropriately during a working fire.

The Advantages Of Proper Turnout Gear Maintenance

As firefighter cancer awareness grows, we have all realized that dirty gear isn’t a badge of honor; it’s an unnecessary risk. Proper turnout gear cleaning and PPE storage can reduce these risks. We have the tools to make these processes even more straightforward. Here are a few industry-standard tips to get you started along with how we can help you clean and store bunker gear more efficiently.

Step 1 – Inspect

Inspection is vital for spotting failures in gear before they affect you. Become familiar with each piece of firefighter gear. Clean PPE helps you uncover any hidden contamination and damages to overall safety performance.

  • You should check your gear for dirt/contamination, physical damage, and damaged hardware after each use.
  • Perform an advanced inspection of the moisture barrier, seam integrity, fit, material strength, and closure functionality once per year.
  • Note any visible changes.
  • Report possible failures to your supervisor.

Step 2 – Wash

Dirty turnout gear carries even more risks than harboring possibly carcinogenic fireground contaminants. Leaving your firefighting gear dirty can reduce its protective insulation capabilities. Dirty gear can also reduce heat and electricity protections, reduce water repellent capabilities, and potentially increase flammability.

There Is A Wrong Way!

Believe it or not, laundering bunker gear improperly can also weaken or destroy the protections this clothing Is supposed to provide. Ready Rack washers, drying racks, and drying cabinets were all created specifically to keep your firefighter gear’s integrity intact.

The Better Way To Wash

Once you’ve chosen a washing machine (extractor) specially designed for cleaning firefighter gear, make sure to pair it with an equally protective detergent. CitroSqueeze, for example, is the ONLY NFPA 1851 compliant PPE turnout gear cleaner that has been tested extensively by the creators of Nomex®, Kevlar®, Gore-tex®, etc. and PROVEN to maintain the protective quality of PPE and turnout apparel.

  • Do not overload the machine. Our NFPA compliant washers can clean between 1 and 4 sets of turnout gear at a time.
  • Pre-treat if necessary.
  • Fasten all garment closures – hook and loop, snaps, zippers, hooks, and eyes. Don’t forget your pockets!
  • Turn garments inside out and place them in a mesh laundry bag.
  • Add detergent. We recommend and carry CitroSqueeze PPE Turnour Gear cleaner.
  • Run one complete cycle, rinsing at least twice.
  • Inspect gear and rewash, if necessary.

Step 3 – Dry

Thick, bulky firefighter turnout gear can be extremely slow to dry, which can lead to mold growth, odors, and letting contamination set further into your PPE. Fire gear washer-extractors remove more moisture during cleaning, which can speed this process up.

Using specially designed air-drying racks or drying cabinets also helps decrease drying times without exposing items to potentially destructive UV damage or high-temperature drying of conventional dryers.

PPE Air Drying Tips

  • Make sure you have plenty of space between PPE items.
  • Ensure proper ventilation and airflow.
  • Avoid sunlight – this can lead to UV damage to your gear.

PPE Machine Drying Tips

  • Do not overload the drying cabinet. Our NFPA 1851 compliant Firehouse Express Dryers can remove moisture from between 2 and 6 sets of PPE, depending on the model you choose, in just 3 hours.
  • Fasten all garment closures – hook and loop, snaps, zippers, hooks, and eyes. Don’t forget your pockets!
  • Turn garments inside out and place them in a mesh laundry bag. Or in the case of PPE drying cabinets hang clothing separate from liners, and place smaller items like boots, gloves, and hoods on provided shelving.
  • Choose a no-heat option, if available. If heat is necessary, temperatures should not exceed 105 degrees. Our dryers use ambient or heated air with up to 1500W of heating capacity.

Step 4 – Store

Improper turnout gear storage can cost you in the long run. It can trap moisture and contamination and waste time when you want to be out the door responding to an emergency. After turnout gear cleaning and thorough PPE drying, store your gear in a way that protects it so it can continue to protect you as long as possible.

  • Store your turnout gear clean, dry, well-ventilated settings.
  • Keep firefighter gear away from direct sunlight or UV lights.
  • Store in temperatures below 180 degrees F and above -25 degrees F.

Proper Storage, Perfected

At Ready Rack, we have designed both the traditional Ready Rack and the heavier-duty, highly customizable Red Rack for proper firefighter gear storage at your fire station. Our systems work for fire departments nationwide.

Got Surplus Gear?

We also carry anti-microbial, self-deodorizing, and stain-resistant Gear Guard Rack Covers. We can manufacture these covers in custom sizes to meet specific needs. They further protect your bunker gear from UV degradation and cancer-causing particulates, like diesel exhaust.

Protect Your Turnout Gear Today

Turnout gear is a significant investment. Protect your bottom line and the men and women on the front lines with proper PPE cleaning and storage. At Ready Rack, we want to help you feel confident about your firefighter safety tools – from on-site decontamination to gear stored and ready for duty once again. Contact us today to place your order or learn more about how we are prepared to serve you.

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