Gear Wash Blog

Preliminary Exposure Reduction & Advanced Cleaning- What's the Difference?

One of the biggest topics within the fire industry in the last few years has been cancer prevention and awareness. We all know the importance of this, but what is something we can target immediately, to prevent preliminary exposure after being on scene?  

NFPA 1851 specifies the recommended actions for the cleaning and drying of turnout gear. It defines three types of cleaning: preliminary exposure reduction, advanced, and specialized, which regards hazmat contaminants. Let’s cover the requirements and benefits of preliminary exposure reduction and advanced cleaning to begin.  


Preliminary Exposure Reduction should occur after every incident where soiling has occurred. This can be fire, smoke or attached debris of any kind. This first step will mitigate airborne particulate up to 85% and reduce cross contamination. Here are some tips you can follow: 

  1. Remain on self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air.
  2. Deploy wet mitigation by gently rinsing the exterior of ensembles and ensemble elements by using low pressure and low volume flow water.
  3. Do NOT use chlorine bleach.
  4. Use cool or warm water that does not exceed 105° F (40° C).
  5. Use mild detergent
  6. Brush any debris with a gentle bristle brush
  7. Rinse gear until water runs clear.
  8. Doff ensemble and ensemble elements, isolate, and place inside a bag for transport back to station. 


If your department has washing machines and is a manufactured or verified ISP trained organization, you can take on Advanced Cleaning. Gear Wash is rigorously tested to ensure that our cleaning methods meet a standard clean. This is why the NFPA requires advanced cleanings at least twice a year, but we recommend sending your gear in more to increase the longevity of what you wear. It is imperative that your department sends in gear as often as needed, as this will reduce any further exposure from risky carcinogens. 

Advanced cleaning is our bread and butter. Check out what else we can offer at Gear Wash here. 

Now that you can see the main differences between these two processes, you can be educated and well-informed when making decisions for your department and your personal health and safety. 


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