As a firefighter, you are responsible for the equipment you use and wear on a daily basis. Safety is essential on a call, and if you do not properly store the gear, you could be setting yourself up for failure during a rescue. The importance of personal protective equipment should never be ignored—use the following techniques and learn what to avoid for longer-lasting gear.
A rule of thumb for your firefighting equipment is never to store the gear in direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will slowly degrade the fabric on jackets and pants. If there are areas where you need to store the gear in sunlight, consider placing a protective shield over the PPE to protect it further.
Clean Gear After Calls
After you take a call and put out a fire, toxic materials and carcinogens could be present on the gear that are extremely harmful and dangerous if left uncleaned. Simply rinsing the fabric is not be enough to eliminate the toxins; ensure you are taking the time to clean each piece of equipment thoroughly. Routinely inspect the gear for damage and repair when necessary to remain safe on calls.
Don’t Store Gear in Trucks Unless Covered
If you’re placing equipment in the trunk of your firetruck personal vehicle, you must cover the gear to protect it from sunlight and heat. Excess exposure to these elements will wither the material, making it dry and brittle. Properly store your firefighting equipment in an area of the firehouse that is easily accessible and somewhere the team will remember for emergencies.
Clean, Dry, Ventilate
Choose a clean, dry, and ventilated area to store the gear. This ensures there is limited exposure to harmful elements like heat and UV rays. Ventilation is important to battle lingering toxic fumes firefighters deal with daily. Typically, gear lockers are significant components in a firehouse and work great for keeping each person’s equipment in a designated space.
Always follow the best practices when storing gear; if you do not, you could be putting your life at risk during a call. Be mindful of how you store your equipment and take the proper measurements for cleaning. Remember to avoid high heat and sunlight, and repair or replace gear when appropriate.