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  1. #1
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    Default washing turnout gear

    Can anyone help me out with ways to washing turnout gear? Im on a Search and Rescue team thats with the county's EOC and am also the only one who has to wear the turnout gear since im the medical supervisor. Last night we had a call and, well, me and my turnout gear wound up covered in mud. Is there ways to washing it other than sending it away to "pro washing companies"?
    Thanks...


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    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanStevens
    Can anyone help me out with ways to washing turnout gear? Im on a Search and Rescue team thats with the county's EOC and am also the only one who has to wear the turnout gear since im the medical supervisor. Last night we had a call and, well, me and my turnout gear wound up covered in mud. Is there ways to washing it other than sending it away to "pro washing companies"?
    Thanks...
    If it's just mud you're talking about, first hose it down good to get as much off as possible. Separate the liner from the outer shell (if possible). Then, take it to a laundromat and toss it in one of the bigger front loading machines. You can use a little bit of mild liquid laundry detergent with WARM water, but NO bleaches, NO bleach alternatives (some detergents have that) and NO softeners. Liquid Tide, Cheer or Wisk will work fine. I would recommend running it through a second time with no detergent for a good rinsing. AIR DRY ONLY! Do NOT put it in a dryer of any kind! Hang it up outside (not in direct sunlight), or inside where there is good ventilation.

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    Forum Member Frmboybuck's Avatar
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    Good info Chauffer....Also once you seperate the liner, zip the coat up and fasten all closures and velcro. That will keep your velcro from collecting all the "fuzzies"

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    Alright, ill deff try that out. however, my gear doesnt seperate...the outer liner is attached to the inner liner. what should i do for that? still take it all to the laundry mat? The mud is heavily caked into the tan outer liner. i was practically swimming in mud tryin to extract the person. the mud on the pants came out great, just sprayed it with a hose, but the jacket, well the mud came off but left massive dark stains on the outer.

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    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    If the gear is sewn together and doesn't separate, that's fine too. You can still wash it in the machine, it'll just take a lot longer to dry is all.

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    alright. thanks. ill give it a try tomrw. how long would u estimate itll take to dry and what soap do i use for it at the laundromat. Since we have hurricane ernesto coming into our county, hopefully the gear will be dry by thursday or so.

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    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Use only a little bit (maybe 1/4 cap) of regular liquid laundry detergent like Wisk or Tide or Cheer. Use only the regular stuff though, not the kind with "bleach alternative" or any of that other junk. The gear will probably take at least a day or two to dry fully.

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    sounds good. what do you think about maybe instead of detergent, i use the actual bunkergear wash soap? since a website said a bit NO on regular detergant?

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    Forum Member ffexpCP's Avatar
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    I don't think it will hurt to use the correct stuff for the job.

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    To help dry it faster you can always put a fan on it. Good luck with Ernesto!

  11. #11
    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanStevens
    sounds good. what do you think about maybe instead of detergent, i use the actual bunkergear wash soap? since a website said a bit NO on regular detergant?
    My posts were based on the assumption that you didn't have any of the specialized turnout gear washing detergent. OBVIOUSLY if you do, then use it.

    I have to ask though, what is the point of having the detergent if you seemingly don't have the means (an in-station washer/extractor) to actually use it? It would seem that if you had the detergent, you would already know how to launder the gear.

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    Well, i dont have the detergent for it, i was just asking so as not to damage the gear. And our station is in the process of getting an "industrial" sized washing machine. since im on the county's search and rescue team, we really dont use bunker gear. but since im the medical supervisor, im instructed to wear it to all outings. its a bit of a pain, but it keeps me dry from the rain and mosquitos.

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    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanStevens
    Well, i dont have the detergent for it, i was just asking so as not to damage the gear. And our station is in the process of getting an "industrial" sized washing machine. since im on the county's search and rescue team, we really dont use bunker gear. but since im the medical supervisor, im instructed to wear it to all outings. its a bit of a pain, but it keeps me dry from the rain and mosquitos.
    You're totally confusing me here. If you don't actually have the gear detergent, then why did you ask if you should use it? If you know someone that has some and can give you a squirt of it, good. If not, just use the liquid Wisk or Tide like I said. It'll be fine, trust me. I've had many, many years of experience with the cleaning, maintenance and repair of turnout gear, having started and run our dept's program back in the early 90s and working closely with Globe, Janesville and Morning Pride as well as National Safety Clean and Trilex.

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    Alright. sorry for confusing ya. Ill take your advice and use the wisk or tide. thanks again.

    Jon

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    I was taught NOT to wash turnout gear in commercial or home machines because of the danger of leaving carcinogens from the fire scene in the machine for the next load, or washing them into the sewage system in the drain water. Any opinions on that?

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    Fir Na Tine LuckyThirteen's Avatar
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    I was told the same thing. Was told that if you want to do it yourself, take a bucket of water, mild detergent (w/out bleach as has already been stated) and a scrub brush. As with any washing method, seperate the inner portion from the outer and then hang dry (out of direct sunlight).
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    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RHB312
    I was taught NOT to wash turnout gear in commercial or home machines because of the danger of leaving carcinogens from the fire scene in the machine for the next load, or washing them into the sewage system in the drain water. Any opinions on that?
    To address the general issue of the machines themselves, it's never a good idea to wash gear in a top loading machine with an agitator. Only a front loading commercial washer/extractor should be used. Detergent formulated specifically for turnout gear use it ideal (such as Station Care 1500), but in lieu of that a mild liquid detergent with no additives like Tide, Wisk or Cheer is fine.

    To address the issue of carcinogens left behind in the machine, yes it can be a concern. Which is why I recommended that he first give the gear a good hosing off and also that he run the gear through a second cycle without detergent to ensure a complete rinse. This will take care of any potential carcinogens that may have been left behind. If you're really concerned with it, do the right thing and run the machine through a complete cycle empty with a cup of bleach before you return the machine to "civilian" use.

    To address the issue of carcinogens draining into the sewage system, that's a non issue. There is far worse in the sewage system than dirty wash water full of soot from a fire. The detergent does a decent job of breaking down the residue anyway. I've never heard of any system that traps or filters potential carcinogens from the waste water of these machines. I've had experience with the installation of commercial gear washer/extractors as well as working with two of the biggest commercial outfits that wash gear, and the subject of the waste water going anywhere other than down the regular sewer pipes never came up.

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    Thanks for the advice, Chauffer6. Our volunteer station doesn't have any kind of washer, so most of our bunker gear gets the 'hose on the bay floor' treatment. Now I can feel comfortable taking it to a front loading commercial washer, not leaving nasties behind for the next customer.

  19. #19
    Forum Member Chauffeur6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RHB312
    Thanks for the advice, Chauffer6. Our volunteer station doesn't have any kind of washer, so most of our bunker gear gets the 'hose on the bay floor' treatment. Now I can feel comfortable taking it to a front loading commercial washer, not leaving nasties behind for the next customer.
    You're welcome. Like I said though, if you're going to make a routine out of using a laundromat, do the right thing and give the machine an empty final hot water and bleach run before turning it back over to normal use.

  20. #20
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Talking Well.............

    Looks like some good advice so far. BUT, You'd have had about three pages full if you would have posted this on "Firefighting" or even "off Duty" rather than here. To get back to the issue at hand, I throw my gear in the washing machine several times per year, and use whatever is at hand. Somone once told a probie to wash a pile of old towels (used for wiping down apparatus) and be sure to use TWO CUPS of Class A Foam. Don't fall for that trick.
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