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Cleaning Gear

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  • Cleaning Gear

    So here's my issue. I'm kind of a neat freak about clean gear. I like to keep my gear clean and carcinogen free, so each time after any fire work whether it be real fire, car fire, training fire etc, i hose my gear down and give it a scrub to do my best to keep it clean. We don't have a washer at our station so we have to send it over to our neighbors, and I can't be sending my gear every other week for them to wash, as it usually takes a few days before they get to it and wash it. So, does anyone have any tips on "home maintenance" of gear, ways to clean it better than hosing and scrubbing it, that are safe for the gear and will be effective on getting the crap off of it? any input would be appreciated!
    All the best!

  • #2
    spare set ----------------------
    ?

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    • #3
      Hit Craigslist for a used washer. I see working machines for less than $150 often, and non working anywhere from "free if you pick it up" to $50. I've repaired several for less than $20 in parts. It's often a solenoid valve keeping it from filling, or just a drum spring that's popped off, making the drum sit off center and act like it's unbalanced all the time.

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      • #4
        Check with your vendor on what kind of machine they want their gear washed in, too. I'm thinking most would prefer an extractor to a home-style washer. A front-loader might be better than a top-load, if you do use a consumer-grade machine.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Tree_68 View Post
          Check with your vendor on what kind of machine they want their gear washed in, too. I'm thinking most would prefer an extractor to a home-style washer. A front-loader might be better than a top-load, if you do use a consumer-grade machine.
          Absolutely. I currently use two sets of gear. My Globe manual says a front loading machine is preferable because it has no agitator, with a stainless tub if available. It also says a washer designed for turnouts is preferable, but not required. Globe says to use a laundry bag if you use a top loader to protect the gear from the agitator. They go into even more detail about G forces during extraction, etc. My Honeywell (Morning Pride) manual says top loading is ok, but front loading is preferred because it's not as rough on the gear.

          My local Craigslist has several front loading machines, but no non-working ones. I'd look for non-working machines and see if it's anything like a sensor, bad molex connector, solenoid, springs, etc. that can be fixed for cheap if your station can't afford one. You need a machine at the station. There's a good chance some of your FF's are washing their gear at home in their personal machines.
          Last edited by tbzep; 05-28-2016, 11:47 AM.

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          • #6
            They do make some top loaders without an agitator, we have one at the station that was purchased specifically for washing gear bags, wildland and structure gear. I don't know the model number but it is a large Kenmore so a large consumer model washer not an extractor or commercial machine.

            I'm sure it is a requirement that the department provide the appropriate means to wash your gear. Mine gets washed immediately after any exposure to smoke, whether training burn or the real thing, my lungs don't know the difference. If a volunteer department they need to understand you will be out of service until your gear is clean, if career I thought a second set was required these days. There is no good reason for firefighters to be using dirty gear unless they hit another fire before getting back to the station.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Here and there View Post
              I'm sure it is a requirement that the department provide the appropriate means to wash your gear.
              In reality, I'm sure you'll find that it's the "authority having jurisdiction" who holds that responsibility. For some very rural departments, that can be very gray.

              In our case, it's our fire district. That's not a problem - they buy everything anyhow. We have a machine available, but it's at the other station. With a new station in the planning stages, a machine will be included in said planning.

              Departments that work under a village or town might be able to leverage the municipality's buying power to pick up a machine.

              Never mind the issue with the agitator in a consumer machine - washing one's gear at home exposes one's family to all that stuff we're trying to get rid of. Unless you run an "empty" load or two on the machine after washing your gear, you take the chance of exposing your family to the same junk.

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              • #8
                Instead of sending it to the adjoining department or district and waiting for them to do it why aren't you taking it there and washing it yourself? Hang out at the station for an hour while it washes and go hang it at your station. They probably wouldn't mind if you're doing the work and supplying your own detergent. Bring them something to eat and they will welcome you.

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                • #9
                  Have you explored grant options for the purchase of a gear washer?
                  Career Firefighter
                  Volunteer Captain

                  -Professional in Either Role-

                  Originally posted by Rescue101
                  I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OGSquad1 View Post
                    Instead of sending it to the adjoining department or district and waiting for them to do it why aren't you taking it there and washing it yourself? Hang out at the station for an hour while it washes and go hang it at your station. They probably wouldn't mind if you're doing the work and supplying your own detergent. Bring them something to eat and they will welcome you.
                    That's what we do, except maybe the food part... The fire district buys the detergent anyhow, so we don't even have to bring our own.

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                    • #11
                      Cancer is our #1 killer of firefighters. We need to take every opportunity for prevention. Don't waste your time looking for residential clothes washing machines if you have a gear extractor available. Take it and get it washed. Don't forget to wash your helmet liner. Your forehead is 43% more absorptive than the baseline skin absorption rate. For every 5 degrees rise in skin temp the absorption rate increases 400%. This is no BS. Check out the Firefighters Cancer Support Network. Dying of cancer has no glory to it. It is just sad. Believe me..... its just sad. Wash your gear.

                      Comment

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