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It is well understood that fire fighters are exposed to contaminants. Those contaminants soil fire fighter PPE (personal protective equipment), and the soiled PPE cross-contaminates everything it contacts.

As a consequence, turnout clothing is being cleaned more frequently. However, it is still not known if current or new cleaning procedures adequately remove such contaminants from PPE.

This project is borne out of concerns from the fire service stakeholder community for contamination that may adversely impact long term health and wellness. The fundamental questions being asked are “How clean is clean?” and “How do I know my gear is clean?” General  cleaning exist for the stakeholder community in NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. But more science is needed to support, clarify and enhance those procedures. An NFPA 1851 cleaning task group has been attempting to address this topic on behalf of the responsible NFPA technical Committee, and this task group is closely following the work of this research project.

Beginning in late 2015, a four-phase PPE research project was initiated to use scientific methodology to identify and establish procedures for ensuring optimum contaminant removal from fire fighter PPE. Further progress in this effort is described below.


Firefighter PPE washing


Additional information on this project includes the following:
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Is this issue important to you?  Do you want to help address fire fighter safety and health? If you want to be on our mailing list (used only for this project), please provide your e-mail address. We will notify you when interim and final reports/updates are available.

If you want additional information pertaining to the NFPA 1851 cleaning task group (handled separately from this research project), you can email the task group chair Tim Tomlinson.