A lot happens behind the scenes at a fire station—training, equipment maintenance, and gear cleaning, just to name a few ongoing responsibilities. Gear cleaning and maintenance are particularly important because they ensure that firefighters stay safe both at the scene and afterward. Cleaning after a fire event is necessary to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of exposure to the harmful carcinogens at the fireground. It’s also essential to use products that don’t damage gear materials.
Despite its importance, firefighter gear cleaning can fall by the wayside when other urgent tasks take precedence. Using a Mobile Extraction Unit® can help ensure that fire stations maintain a recommended cleaning schedule and decontaminate gear when needed.
What is a Mobile Extraction Unit?
Developed by Redline Gear Cleaning, The Mobile Extraction Unit® (MEU) is a portable, self-contained decontamination station that uses D7 to remove and neutralize the potentially harmful chemicals found on firefighter turnout gear. Housed in a heavy-duty truck, the equipment inside the MEU can decontaminate 40 sets of gear in a day, including helmets, boots, hoods, gloves, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs), and masks. In addition, equipment goes through a 25-point gear inspection process, and repairs can be sent out and completed via a certified NPFA1851 partner if necessary.
D7 is a three-part compound that uses a detergent to penetrate soils and a chemical neutralizer to deactivate carcinogens and other toxins. The product is low-corrosive, compatible for use on most surfaces, and proven to be non-damaging to the materials used in turnout gear.
The MEU can perform basic cleaning, biological sanitization, and advanced and specialized cleanings that conform to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. In the MEU, gear is spot treated and laundered with D7 to effectively remove or inactivate heavy metals, semi-volatile organic compounds, and microorganisms to meet NFPA standards in one single process.
Why do you need a Mobile Extraction Unit® for turnout gear decontamination?
Although there are many ways to approach turnout gear decontamination, having an MEU come to you offers many advantages over doing it in-house or sending gear out for cleaning.
Meet NFPA standards.
The NFPA 1851 standard requires gear maintenance to be performed by trained professionals. When you outsource to a certified provider, you can be confident that the equipment, products, and personnel meet this NFPA standard. Although it’s possible (and recommended) to train in-house teams to follow NFPA guidelines, other tasks often take a higher priority.
Stay on schedule.
Turnout gear should be cleaned regularly, but it can be challenging for stations with limited resources to stay on top of it. However, with an MEU on standby, you can stick to a regular cleaning schedule and decontaminate when needed. Working with a dedicated provider helps you keep gear cleaning timelines on track, and your turnout gear never has to leave your station.
Conserve internal resources.
The NFPA 1851 standard requires a certain type of equipment for washing turnout gear. They also recommend using separate machines for inner and outer layers to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. With limited resources and limited space, it can be challenging for stations to meet these standards. With an MEU that comes with cleaning equipment, you don’t have to worry about buying more equipment and finding space for it. An MEU also allows you to utilize your human resources for tasks other than gear cleaning and maintenance.
Offsite gear cleaning typically takes at least two weeks. Conversely, with the MEU, you can have up to 40 sets of gear cleaned in one day. Plus, the gear never leaves your property except for repairs. Although you can and should train internal team members to clean gear, working with an MEU can ease the burden.
Learn more about gear decontamination.
The Decon7 Guide to Firefighter Turnout Gear Decontamination is a free resource that covers the steps fire departments can take to reduce the risks of exposure to harmful chemicals, including proper cleaning methods for turnout gear. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all the work alone. If you would like to reserve an MEU for your site, contact us today for more information.