1. #1
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    Default Replacing Aging Turnout Gear

    I'm trying to make a case for a wholesale changeout of our site's turnout gear. Of approximately 60 sets the newest I am finding is 10 years old. Outside of manufacturer's sites, I am finding nothing that will state an actual age for replacing gear. I have various reasons for my concern such as the unknown condition of the moisture barrier and the heat/flame resistant capabilities of the outer liner after 10 years of storage and annual cleaning.

    We don't use the gear much outside of live firefighting once a year, We've been fortuneate to have very little in the way of events and the gear is in great "looking" shape for it's age. Despite that, I'm looking at gear with manufacturing dates of 1996 and beyond and it's failing my common sense check. At some point it has to be simply "too old", but I can't find that line in the sand written anywhere.

    I need to provide some justification for replacing it, and so far "word on the street says..." just isn't cutting it. I'd like to find someting in the way of an unbiased test, NFPA recommendation, or cfr statement that mentions age if it exists. My own search has turned up empty but would welcome input.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Unfortunately this might be a tough one.

    60 sets x $2000 average per set = $120,000

    At least that is the average for our gear. You might be better off trying to phase out the gear in stages instead of all at once. Start with the oldest or worst shape stuff first, and work towards the rest at a scheduled, and budgeted, pace. This will help the bean counters stomach it, and then you won't have another case where the entire bunch is old as long as the process continues.

    Keep this in mind, NFPA 1971 has been updated THREE times since the newest of your gear was purchased. Arguably, the changes made in the newer versions are made to add protection for firefighters. That should be reason enough to upgrade....throw it out as a safety concern on the part of the group, and get everybody to stand behind it.

    Another downfall may be the actual disposal of the old gear. My employer had to incinerate about 100 sets as hazardous waste since we failed to keep proper documentation of cleaning and decontaminating. However, our HazMat responses sometimes utilize this gear, so we fell into a slightly different category.

    If you are part of a mutual aid group, you might compare your gear against the other responders in the mutual aid group. See what their standards are.

    As far as something which says you must change, I am not aware of anything. But I am not aware of very much to be honest.

  3. #3
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    We have our gear repaired annually and at that time it is inspected and vapor barriers are tested. We have some that is 90 gear and in great shape and other sets that are pulled after 3 years it all depends on who is using it and how much it is used. the quick test of the shell is how easy the material tears, and the liners should be checked per manufactures specs.

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    You might want to "start" a program where each responder has his own turnout gear. That way you could purchase 4-5 sets of gear a year or what ever number you want and retire that number. Each member would then have their own gear that is fitted to that individual.

    Each member of our ERT has his own gear, Which he is responsible for keeping clean, (we have our own washing machine). They have their own SCBA, which is stored in a common place and is checked monthly, and has his own Confine Space Rescue Harness & gear.
    We have found out this works better for us, makes for happier responders.

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    Default NFPA 1851- States retirement procedures for your gear

    Check out NFPA 1851. This Standard states the gear should be retired at 10 years of age. Check Shamrock.org for more info.

  6. #6
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    Default Section from NFPA 1851

    .1 Retirement.

    10.1.1* The organization shall develop specific criteria for removal of structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements from service, which includes, but is not limited to, issues that are specific to the ensembles or ensemble elements being used by the organization, the manufacturer’s instructions, and the experience of the organization.

    10.1.2* Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1, no more than 10 years from the date the ensembles or ensemble elements were manufactured.

    10.1.3 Proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1, no more than 10 years from the date the ensembles or ensemble elements were manufactured.

    10.1.3.1* In all cases, the radiant reflective outer shell shall be replaced at a maximum of 5 years.

    10.1.4* Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements that are worn or damaged to the extent that the organization deems it not possible or cost effective to repair them shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1.

    10.1.5* Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements that were not in compliance with the edition of the applicable NFPA standard that was current when the ensembles and ensemble elements were manufactured shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1.

    10.1.6 Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements that are contaminated to the extent that the organization deems it not possible or cost effective to decontaminate them shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1.

    10.1.7 Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements that are contaminated by CBRN terrorism agents shall be immediately retired as specified in 10.2.1 after confirmed exposure and shall not be reused.

    10.1.8* Structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements that are no longer of use to the organization for emergency operations service but are not contaminated, defective, or damaged shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1 or 10.2.2.

    10.2 Disposition of Retired Elements.

    10.2.1 Retired structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements shall be destroyed or disposed of in a manner ensuring that they will not be used in any fire fighting or emergency activities, including live fire training.

    10.2.2 Retired structural fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements as determined in 10.1.8 shall be permitted to be used as follows:

    (1) For training that does not involve live fire, provided the ensembles and ensemble elements are appropriately marked as being for non–live fire training only

    (2) As determined by the organization

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