FPRF to Host Free Webinar on Firefighter PPE Cleaning
The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA®, will host a free webinar on September 28, 2023, titled “Fire Service PPE Cleaning Validation.” Firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) is exposed to a wide range of toxic chemicals, biological pathogens, and other hazardous substances and contaminants. Those contaminants soil firefighter PPE and other fire service gear. Cross-contaminated equipment and gear are suspected of adversely influencing immediate and long-term firefighter health and wellness. To lessen the risk of these exposures, PPE and other gear are being cleaned more frequently. NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, address general cleaning procedures, but more science is needed to support, clarify, and enhance those procedures. Major research efforts are addressing the question of “How clean is clean?” In late 2015, FPRF initiated PPE cleaning validation research through a 3-year assistance to firefighters grant (AFG) for developing comprehensive procedures to evaluate cleaning in removing both chemical and biological contaminants that ensure optimum contaminant removal from firefighter PPE. As part of this larger effort, FPRF is leading a unique research team partnership that also includes International Personnel Protection, Inc. (IPP, Inc.) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This research established validated cleaning procedures focused on PPE textile garments that are traditionally cleaned in commercial laundering extractors that led to the implementation of gear cleaning and sanitization verification procedures adopted as part of NFPA 1851. A second phase effort was undertaken in late 2018 to establish a validated and scientifically based cleaning methodology for the primary spectrum of potentially contaminated fire service PPE, including turnout clothing and equipment not addressed by previous work such as helmets, gloves, footwear, and SCBA. The research in this project has expanded the available knowledge on fireground contamination, particularly to where it is likely to be found at the highest concentrations and how effectively it can be removed from the range of different firefighter PPE. The findings from this work show that different protective clothing and equipment items being of distinctive designs and comprised of dissimilar materials show varying affinities for becoming contaminated and in being able to be decontaminated. A third phase effort is now ongoing that augments the prior two phases of research to establish and communicate comprehensive best practices the fire service can apply to effectively clean and sanitize firefighter PPE. The principal aim for this new effort is to comprehensively identify the most effective and practical decontamination approaches for each element of the firefighter ensemble to create simple, easy-to-implement tools that fire departments can use to assess PPE contamination from individual structural fires and the effectiveness of their internal cleaning procedures. This webinar will provide an update of findings from this multi-year research effort. Jeffrey Stull, International Personnel Protection, Inc., and Crystal Forester, NIOSH NPPTL, are the presenters of this webinar. Webinar registration is free and required to attend live; register for this webinar using the direct link here, or by visiting nfpa.org/webinars, where you can also watch archived FPRF webinars on demand. The Fire Protection Research Foundation acknowledges the support from the FPRF 2023 Webinar Series Sponsors: · AXA XL Risk Consulting · Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. · Telgian Engineering and Consulting · The Zurich Services Corporation · Worcester Polytechnic Institute Fire Protection Engineering Program To learn more about this project, visit nfpa.org/ppecleaning.