Canyon-Lister Fire Dept - How to Wash Turnout Gear

Turnout gear can take a lot of abuse on the foreground.  It must be cleaned and maintained properly to make sure it will continue to keep you safe.

Coat and Pants

Inspection

Prior to cleaning your gear, it needs to be fully inspected.  You need to make sure that there are no rips, tears, or loose seams or threads that may become worse while being cleaned.

You also need to inspect the pockets to make sure that they are completely empty.  Hose  wrenches, knives, pens, and even notebooks can damage the gear or the washing machine if left in the pockets during the wash process.

Disassembly

Before washing, you need to separate the liners from the shells of both the jackets and pants. This is done by undoing the snaps at the sleeve, leg, neck, waist, and zipper edges.   Remove the DRD (Drag Rescue Device).  

Turn the liners inside out, and fasten all closures (zippers, snaps, and especially velcro).  This helps avoid catching and snagging while being laundered.

 

Washing

Wash the pant and coat liners together, separate from any other gear that may have been exposed to smoke and other contaminants, including gloves, balaclava, and helmet liner.  These items can be included with the shells for the coat and pants.  

ONLY WASH TURNOUT GEAR IN THE MACHINE AT THE FIREHALL.

There is special turnout gear detergent located on top of the washing machine.

Set the machine to wash with warm water and full rinse cycle.  DO NOT USE BLEACH OR FABRIC SOFTENER.  Do not over-fill the machine.

Drying

Do not leave your gear sitting wet in the machine after the wash cycle is finished.  

The best option for drying your turnout gear is to lay it flat in the hose dryer.  Put each item on its own tray to maximize airflow across all the gear.

If there is no room in the dryer, the gear can be hung to dry in an area with good airflow.  If using the hooks on the wall in Tender 51's bay, use the box fan to ensure air movement across the gear.

Re-assembly

After all the items are dry, you will need to put it all back together.  Remember that the liners were turned inside out.  

If your coat is equipped with one, make sure the DRD strap is put back in properly.  

Make sure to reconnect all snaps, including at the arm and leg openings.

Put all equipment and tools back into the pockets before putting your gear back into service.

Quiz

  • Wash your gear with warm water, and a full rinse cycle.
  • Wash your gear with cold water, and rinse is not important.

Quiz 2

  • Wash the coat liner and shell together as one load, pants shell and liner as a load, and gloves, balaclava and helmet liner as another load.
  • Wash the pant and coat liners separately from any other gear which may have been exposed to contaminants including smoke. The shells can be washed with other gear including gloves, balaclava, and helmet liner.

Boots

Clean and Inspect

Rubber turnout boots can be washed with warm water and mild soap.  Thoroughly rinse after cleaning.  Inspect them for any tears, punctures, or seam separation.

Leather boots can be washed with warm water and a soft brush.  Rinse thoroughly when clean.  Do not use soap or cleaners on leather turnout boots.  

Boots can be left to air dry, or can be placed in the hose dryer to speed up the process.

Quiz

  • Rubber boots can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap, but you must not use soap on leather boots.
  • Warm water and mild soap can be used to wash any firefighting boots.

Helmet

Cleaning

Structural firefighting helmets can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap / detergent.  

Helmets should be cleaned regularly.  Dirt and smoke residue can hide defects such as cracks or scratches, and also decrease the protective rating of the helmet.

Inspection

Firefighting helmets need to be inspected regularly to ensure they will continue to work as designed.  They are meant to provide both impact protection, and protection from extreme heat.  However, exposure to either of those can severely weaken the helmet.

After cleaning the helmet, inspect it for cracks and deep scratches that may affect structural integrity.  Also inspect the inner harness system to make sure it is still connected properly and also does not have any broken components.

Exposure to extreme heat can cause permanent discolouration  of the plastic, and possibly some bubbling as well.  This is evidence of structural damage to the helmet, which severely limits the helmets ability provide adequate levels of safety.  

If your helmet appears to show evidence of any damage, have it checked by an Officer who will determine if it needs to be taken out of service and replaced.

Signs of Damage

  • Discolouration and bubbling are normal and do not indicate damage to a helmet.
  • Discolouration and bubbling are signs of significant damage to the plastic of the helmet, and indicate that the helmet likely needs to be removed from service.