The old quote about law is that it needs to be “stable but not stand still.” The same can be said for NFPA 1851 as it relates to PPE cleaning, maintenance and inspection. Standards have continued to change over the last decade plus. A fresh round of changes introduced late last year illustrate that guidelines will flex as we learn more about what procedures work as well as the idea of how clean is clean.

Among the changes to note in the most recent edition are:

  • Washer-extractors become the go-to equipment. Top load washers are no longer an option for cleaning gear. Programmable washer-extractors are necessary and G-Force limits are capped at 100 for extract.
  • Improved decision trees. The new document includes updated flow charts that will help departments decide what level of cleaning is necessary for the specific event that firefighters responded to.
  • Advanced cleaning requirement increased. Advanced cleaning of turnout gear previously was only necessary annually. With the new standards, the requirement has been raised to every six months. Advanced cleaning requires a washer-extractor.
  • On-scene decontamination. Rinsing of firefighters while at the incident scene, use of baby wipes and bagging of contaminated gear are outlined to prevent contaminants in apparatus.

These are just a few of the changes in the most recent version of the document. We can safely assume that additional changes will be made in the years ahead. To learn more, consult with NFPA or your verified independent service provider (ISP).