Gear Wash Blog

How to Mitigate PPE Damage Over Time

Where does your department keep PPE when not in service? Lockers in the bay, exposed to UV rays and exhaust emissions? If so, it’s time to reconsider how your gear is being stored. Making sure that your PPE is stowed correctly is a perfect example of how you can lessen the risk of damage in the future.

Proper NFPA storage requirements

  • Before storing, your garments should be clean and dry - avoiding contact with contaminants, such as oils, solvents, acids, or alkalis.
  • The storage areas must be well ventilated with no exposure to harsh lighting, fluorescent lighting, direct sunlight, and indirect sunlight.
  • PPE should not be stored at temperatures below -32°C (-25°F) or above 82°C (180°F).
When transporting, PPE should be placed in an airtight protective case or bag to prevent damage. 

If gear was in storage, what could’ve damaged it?

  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays and fluorescent lighting can damage your turnout gear.
  • Outer shell material is susceptible to color fading and loss of overall strength when exposed to prolonged periods of Ultraviolet light. Keeping your gear tucked away from harsh lighting will help protect it. 
Any moisture from gear not being dried thoroughly can lead to mildew. Ensure after laundering, your gear is completely dry.

How do I know if my gear needs inspection?

The most prevalent sign of UV damage is discoloration. Although this may not be an immediate cause for panic, it’s a good initial hint that PPE should be inspected to confirm that your gear is still strong and effective. Prolonged exposure to UV will cause fabric to weaken to levels below NFPA certification requirements where the fabric will tear easily.

Making sure your firehouse adheres to these guidelines can be the difference between effective and ineffective PPE. While your turnouts aren’t in use or being repaired or laundered, take some time to safely store your gear, ensuring a long life of safe firefighting ahead.


Categorized: NFPA, PPE Care, Recommended Maintenance for Turnout Gear, Turnouts