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Cleaning of PPE

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Brought about by several other topics regarding PPE, in GMFRS we have personal issue PPE which is individually barcoded and when dirty, get thrown in a sack, collected by an external company and taken away to be cleaned. The obvious advantage here is that the PPE has a history with it of how many times its been washed or repaired and of course checked to see if its still fit for purpose. 

Years ago we used to have washing machines on station, but those old enough to remember will know why we got rid of them. 

The system we have is not perfect as it sometimes takes an age to get your PPE back and it even goes missing etc. We do have a second set and if that gets dirty we have a reserve stock on station. 

Bearing in mind that the PPE has a life span and some can only be washed a number of times, how does your service manage your PPE ?

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Wasn't it you lot who used to like taking rides in the washing machine ?

Yeah we have the same system. We are in a contract with a few brigades. 

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Similar system with us apart from it is all managed centrally through stores. PPE is collected form station taken to stores and then to external contractor. Reserve kit is held at stores which does sometimes cause a bit of a problem out of hours.

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DFB have a fully traceable system. Wearers book their PPE for laundry on a cloud based system which can be viewed by stores staff. Stores managers can then target the collection staff to where they are needed. Our external contractor then launders the PPE in our purpose built  laundry. Every stage of the process is scanned so wearers can see where their kit is at any stage.

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London have an 'fully managed' package with Bristol. All kit is 'pool kit' if you like.

Everyone has a set and then there will be a 100% station reserve stock, essentially a spare pair for everybody. When kit get changed, this goes up on the computer to bristol with an advice slip printed out with the barcoded sticker of the new kit you have put on. This means that spare kit will be delivered in your size as part of the next delivery, so a maximum of 7 days if you have just missed it. Your old kit, once laundered, will then be delivered elsewhere.

Its always interesting to see the varying degrees of use with kit delivered... popular sizes can be quite worn. However, my recruit who is female and really small, changed her gear last week and got a brand new tunic... We are 7yrs into the contract!

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Very similar.  Each person has two sets of personnel issue kit on station.  Dirty kit gets put in the laundry bag and collected on a Friday in our case.  It's gets turned around and is back, washed, checked, repaired and ready to go, the following Friday.  If both sets are in the laundry at the same time then I ring the emergency number and pool stock is delivered on station inside two hours.  If something is condemned at the laundry, due to damage, contamination or just too many washes, then new kit arrives pretty much by return.  My only gripe is it is that always dirty beige stuff!

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Same as you Carl only difference with me personally is that FIT have 3 sets of kit but we stick our kit in for laundry after every job.  

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Think bar coded way is the way to go with it these days but not keen on the pool kit idea, personally I think it should be personal issue.

There was a video a year or so back from some where like the Dutch that showed full sterlie/decontamination strip into a bag and then washed/showered back on station that puts the system in the UK to shame.  I cannot find it but got a feeling it may have been posted on the old site if anyone remembers it?

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We're the same as most of the above. 2x sets of personal issue kit, any dirty kit collected once a week and clean / repaired kit returned the week after. I've seen the Dutch video, if it's the same one they have a BA cleaning machine on station as well. 

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Intersting video. The point made about showering is an interesting one. If we have a crappy job then I always take the pump off and give my guys time to shower. However, I reckon there is a good few jobs we come back from where when asked they respond with "Im Ok , ill get one when I get home, we haven't long to go" 

Food for thought?

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  • 2 months later...

It’s something I’m hoping to raise with our senior managers next time we’re graced with their presence.

At the moment there’s no provision for keeping the cab ‘clean’ or storing ppe once worn in a snotty job separately. After the Dublin fire research into cancers amongst firefighters it’s a subject that’s been irking me and the relative insignificance paid to it by our lot in both vehicle design and clean up post incident. 

Although we have a spare set of fire kit and flash hood we have no facility to deep clean a fire helmet or BA set.

I work on a busy city station where it would not be out of the ordinary for kit to be used in a snotty environment more than once in that shift, that would mean the spare set would get used up quickly and therefore the laundered set wouldn’t be dry and ready to go for next shift.

That said the video is ultra cautious and I can’t imagine those protocols being followed so closely.

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Sadly I don’t have a direct link. I believe I read the article in the fbu magazine.

I’ll see what I can dig up on it.

Whilst not the original article here is one I turned up whilst looking for it.

And another Union one 


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The UK are somewhat behind the curve on this imho but we are at least starting to catch up now.  All the research and analysis has been done abroad, we don’t even see, to be collecting stats on cancer amongst firefighters.

As someone who is a cancer survivor and it was one of those where ffs are known to have a much higher incidence than the general population, I will forever wonder whether mine was due to something I was exposed to at a job.  I had been in the job for 15 years when I was diagnosed and it was only about that time that warnings on dirty kit etc started to come out.  Had I known the risks right from the start, I would have been more careful with getting kit cleaned and getting showered straight after every job no matter how small.  Now I take the view that if my kit or I smell of smoke in the slightest then it’s straight in the wash with both.

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Queensland is pretty much the same as Manchester. You have 2 complete sets of PPE, computer tagged to the individual. All laundry done under contract with every clean being recorded. 

If you go through both sets on a shift/tour then you can call stores and get pool kit delivered.

On a job, as soon as it's over it's dress down, the turnout gear/flash hood/ gloves are put in a laundry bag and put in a locker for the trip home then shower asap after getting back.


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  • 5 months later...

Actually logged on here to bring up the articles featured in the latest FBU mag! Just wondered who had read it and if anyone thinks things will start to change? Will people start taking the risks more seriously? How long before the UKFRS are forced to adopt a similar approach to other countries when it comes to decontamination? Will we be provided with the right resources/training/input to be able to do this on the fire ground following a job or will old habits die hard?

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On ‎16‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 10:13, HoldFast said:

 Will we be provided with the right resources/training/input to be able to do this on the fire ground following a job or will old habits die hard?

Simple answer I doubt it. We're coming on board re swapping dirty kit thanks to the lockers full of Bristol kit on LFB stations, however the sets are still being carried back to station in the cabs/lockers so we've still got contaminants there. I can't see us getting extra sets to get dirty ones away for cleaning, nor can I see the days when the back cab doesn't stink of job arriving soon. Brutal cynic in me sez its probably cheaper for brigades to pay out the few who can provide a definitive link between ops and their cancer than to provide the extra kit, maintenance programme, training packages, extra cover required whilst trucks off the run cleaning kit....

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It is getting to be a hot topic.  I have written an article that may feature in an upcoming edition of Alerter, the FBU magazine for RDS members that deals with this subject although you can only ever skim the surface in 750 or so words.

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