Personal Protective Equipment: Friend or Foe?

Jim Swartzwelder tells why, if you’re not keeping your protective clothing properly cleaned and maintained, there may be something nefarious hiding inside your turnouts.


There may be something nefarious hiding in your turnouts and personal protective equipment (PPE). While we all embrace the need to keep our equipment in top condition, turnouts and PPE, the things closest to us are sometimes overlooked. New and stringent guidelines published by the National...


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Today, in many fire departments around the country, a determination is being made on how each individual department will accomplish their goal of meeting NFPA 1851. After being thoroughly trained in all aspects of NFPA 1851 and then training internal employees on the routines for in-department PPE cleaning, many departments are taking the direction of creating their in-house cleaning and repair program to provide their firefighters clean and safe turnouts.


Jim Schwartzwelder spent 29 years with the City of Poway, CA, Fire Department, retiring as a captain. Before that, he spent two year with the California Division of Forestry and three years with Federal Fire. Schwartzwelder is currently a safety officer on a U.S. Forest Service National Management Team and an instructor for state fire training as well as an adjunct instructor with Texas A&M for the NFPA 1851 program.