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Q&A with the Suffolk County Fire Academy Chief


firefighter decontamination turnout gear

One of the primary advantages of the D7 formulation is that it can be used for a broad range of applications, including both chemical decontamination and disinfection to destroy bacteria and inactivate viruses. One enterprising organization in New York is taking advantage of these benefits by using D7 for both reducing the spread of COVID-19 and firefighter turnout gear decontamination. We interviewed Chief Ed Johnston to learn more about how the Suffolk County Fire Academy uses Decon7 products.

What does your organization do?

The Suffolk County Fire Academy trains about 12,000 firefighters a year across the 109 fire departments in the county. Each department comes to the academy seven times a year to train and stay current with the latest technology and firefighting techniques. The academy trains at every level—from new recruits to fire chiefs—with about 200 people coming through the academy each day. There are about four fires a day in the county, occurring in both urban and rural environments, so our firefighters have to be prepared for anything. 

What brought you to Decon7?

We became aware of Decon7 when we researched products to use for hazmat and decontamination training. During the pandemic, we learned that the products are also good at eliminating bacteria and viruses.  At the time, we needed to find products to treat the classrooms between use and decontaminate training turnout gear. The Decon7 team offered the perfect solution.

What questions did you have about the products?

We were primarily concerned about whether the products would work, but we also wanted something easy to apply. With so many people using the classrooms and the training gear, we needed a solution that was fast and simple to use. And because we use so much product, we also needed a solution that was easy to procure and had a reliable supply. 

How was the transition to using Decon7 products?

Prior to using D7, we were doing all of the cleaning and sanitizing ourselves with bleach products. The transition to D7 made it a much easier job for the maintenance team, especially when we were doing daily cleanings during the height of the pandemic. The portable sprayer makes application easy and efficient. We now use Decon7 products in every classroom to decontaminate training gear and in the laundry for washable gear.

What application methods do you use?

We use the spray in the classrooms, the locker room, and other shared spaces throughout the facility. We have two portable sprayers: one that is permanently connected to an air compressor in the field house and another that moves between all of the classrooms and offices. We also pour the product into the washing machines when we do laundry. 

What resources did Decon7 provide?

The Decon7 team came to our facility and demonstrated the product in an actual classroom. They also sprayed the turnout gear to show us how easy it is to treat after each use. One of the most impressive moments was when they sprayed the locker room. It was notable how effective the products were at addressing all types of contaminants. We also have easy access to SDS (Safety Data Sheet) documents, which we have to keep on file.

What are the results?

We’re proud to say that—in combination with other health and safety measures—the use of Decon7 products helped us to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our facilities. As an essential service, we never shut down our training program, and not one firefighter contracted the virus at the academy. Our trainees and staff can enter classrooms with confidence because they know we take their health seriously. We attribute this success to the efficacy of the products and our diligence with daily treatment.

Our turnout gear is now cleaner than it has ever been. We are always impressed with how clean the gear gets after being treated with Decon7 products. We used to have to send gear out for cleaning, which took a lot of time and coordination. Now, we can clean the gear as often as we want to protect trainees and staff from carcinogens.

The hazmat team has also adopted Decon7 products for use in the field because of their versatility and effectiveness. The products are easy to deploy, require minimal PPE (personal protective equipment), and are nontoxic.

Would you recommend Decon7 products?

Absolutely. I would especially recommend Decon7 products for use in ambulances because they have to be frequently decontaminated or disinfected . I would also recommend the products for firehouses and other training facilities, especially for cleaning gear.

Get started with Decon7.

If you’re interested in learning more about Decon7 products and what they can do for your facility, get in touch today.

Firefighter Turnout Gear Decontamination