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An eBook specifically designed with
The Brotherhood in mind.

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PPE Protection

Some consider it a “badge of honor” to wear “seasoned” equipment, but today, it can be your worst enemy. With the NFPA enforcing new regulations and continuously advancing the proper washing techniques of personal protective equipment, PPE will need to be thoroughly cleaned after every contamination occurrence. Proper care of your PPE is important to the health of every firefighter. If ignored, there are certain health risks that must be factored in:

  • Citing information provided by the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, firefighters are more likely to develop forms of cancer due to their exposure to harmful carcinogens.
  • Plastics and synthetics are more common in today’s households, making residential fires more dangerous due to different kinds of combustion products — many of them highly toxic and carcinogenic.
  • Unsafe contaminants and dangerous smoke particulates easily penetrate turnout gear and are promptly absorbed within the fabrics of PPE.
  • The body’s largest organ is the skin. Thus, it’s extremely important to remember that when temperatures increase, so does the permeability of the skin. In other words, for every five-degree increase in skin-temperature, absorption increases 400%.
  • It’s not only skin that’s in harm’s way — continued research has determined that contaminants retained in the clothing of a firefighter can easily transfer to the apparatus and the station.

NFPA 1851 currently includes some important details regarding the proper cleansing of PPE:

  • NFPA recommends fire departments clean dirty gear as soon as possible after exposure to fire, body fluids or hazardous materials to preserve the protective qualities of gear. (A.7.1.1)
  • NFPA recommends fire departments clean dirty gear with a front-loading washing machine. Top-loading washers may reduce the service life of protective garments due to damage caused by mechanical agitation. (A.7.7.7 (1))
  • NFPA recommends maximum water temperatures of 105 degrees Fahrenheit and maximum G-Force of 100 G’s. (7.3.7(4))
  • Storage of wet or moist ensembles promotes growth of mildew and bacteria, which can lead to health concerns and weaken gear. (A.9.1.2)
  • Utilize forced ventilation air with proper circulation for accurate drying. (A.7.4.2)


Because of short and long term health monitoring, several studies have proven that firefighters are exposed to many harmful carcinogens while on an active fire scene.

Now more than ever, we realize the importance of maintaining proper care of PPE. UniMac® washers and dryers make it easier for departments to maintain that proper care and to stay NFPA 1851 compliant — helping to ensure the safety and health of every firefighter so they can continue to have the back of their esteemed community, as well as their respected brothers and sisters.

Important Safety Tips

Many firefighters put their own well-being on the back burner while attending to the safety and security of their community. These heroic achievements of The Brotherhood should never go unnoticed, but there are thoughtful ways firefighters can protect themselves while maintaining the safety of their surroundings.

  • Always wear SCBA in active and post-fire environments.
  • After an active scene has been cleared, execute a gross field decon and use wet towels to remove as much soot as possible. Afterwards, isolate and contain your equipment.
  • Once back at the station, change clothes and wash them immediately.
  • Always shower after a fire.
  • Clean PPE gear in NFPA 1851 compliant laundry equipment at the proper extraction, temperature settings and with the proper chemicals.
  • Avoid storing PPE equipment in your home, your vehicle or in the fire station living quarters.
  • Attend annual medical physical exams and encourage your brothers to do the same.

Remember, it’s important to keep every firefighter and their personal protective equipment thoroughly clean. Maintenance and care for both can assist in the prevention of harmful carcinogen contamination that collects on skin and on protective gear while on an active call. With long-term exposure, this contamination may result in cancer or other illnesses.

Learn more by reading the eBook

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Get A Grant

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Grants are readily available, which means proper PPE maintenance can become a reality in your fire house. Request funding for laundering equipment that meets the NFPA PPE cleaning guidelines:

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG)

Their primary goal is to uphold the health and confidence of our nation’s firefighters by financially assisting departments across the U.S. in their courageous efforts in maintaining safe and secure communities. Through this grant, departments can receive a generous fund to help acquire essential, top of the line washer-extractors and PPE drying cabinets — ensuring the health and well-being of everyone in The Brotherhood.

For more information about the program, visit:

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