At Bristol Uniforms we recognise the importance of keeping firefighter PPE clean, and are constantly looking at new ways to help reduce the risk of PPE contamination and firefighters’ exposure to harmful chemicals. With this in mind, we have launched a new Solo Rescue decontamination machine.
What is Solo Rescue?
A complement to Bristol’s existing PPE cleaning and repair services, Solo Rescue can be installed in the fire station. It cleans SCBA, boots, helmets and gloves in a self-contained, sealed compartment, which minimises manual contact with contaminated material. Kit can be cleaned immediately upon return to the fire station, with the machine successfully removing residues of combustion gases, soot particles and toxins in just a few minutes, and it fits in a compact space of less than 1m2.
Solo Rescue is simple to operate and requires minimal servicing. The durable stainless-steel machine is 10 times faster than washing by hand, and uses a mild detergent, approved by manufacturers, which together with warm water cleans kit at high pressure. Up to 14 sets of SCBA can be decontaminated in just one hour, considerably improving the speed and efficiency of the cleaning process.
The machine has been independently tested under controlled conditions and is proven to be more efficient at removing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s) than hand washing alone. It is certified to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 and also conforms to the cleaning requirements of top SCBA brands including Dräger, MSA, Interspiro and SCOTT.
Why use Solo Rescue?
The long-term health risks associated with inhaling smoke are widely accepted across the industry, but there is now additional concern about the risks of absorbing carcinogenic substances through the skin.
Whilst research continues, early findings from the University of Central Lancashire show that a firefighter’s risk of developing cancer is increased if dangerously high levels of harmful chemicals are not removed from protective gear. Contaminated PPE can slowly gas off Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) for a considerable time after an incident – long after the firefighter has taken off his or her breathing apparatus, and even after returning to the fire station. PAHs can also cross-transfer to other surfaces, potentially contaminating firefighting equipment, vehicles and kit rooms back at the station.
With this in mind it’s important that PPE is cleaned regularly. Whilst in the UK, most Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) use a laundry service for their clothing, it’s not always easy to do the same for SCBA. This is because most firefighters get issued two sets of clothing, but SCBA is usually shared. As a result, SCBA cannot be sent off-site for cleaning in case a major incident occurs.
As it stands, many FRSs clean SCBA in the fire station by hand, which is a difficult, lengthy process and can expose the firefighter undertaking the cleaning to further risk of contamination.
Solo Rescue changes all of this. By installing Solo Rescue in the fire station, fire and rescue services can safely, promptly and more efficiently clean SCBA after every incident.
What do other fire and rescue services say?
Solo Rescue is also available across Europe, where some fire crews have been benefitting from the machine for a number of years. South East Skåne FRS in southern Sweden began using Solo Rescue in early 2013. Crew Manager Dennis Nilsson explains the difference the machine has made to them: ‘We are in charge of saving lives but we must also look after ourselves. We used to clean breathing apparatus by hand with a hose, brush and a drop of washing up liquid. Solo Rescue changed all this. It is a robust and stable machine and cleaning gear has quickly become part of our daily routine.’
Andreas Svedlind from Sörmland Coast FRS in south-east Sweden explains how it changed his working environment forever: ‘You used to clearly smell smoke when handling the equipment, no matter how meticulously it had been cleaned. Now the smell has gone and our equipment is noticeably cleaner. There is less ground-in dirt and all equipment is washed after each call.’
For more information, go to www.bristoluniforms.com/decontamination-machine