Sponsored by RAM Air Gear Dryers
By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
Fire departments across North America are facing the greatest threat to firefighter health in several generations: the increased risk that firefighters have – compared to that of the public they serve – of developing cancer because of their exposure to the chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens present in today’s structure fires.
One of the most significant sources of that exposure is the very protective gear – the structural firefighting protective ensemble – that they depend upon to protect them while engaged in structural fire suppression operations.
As fire service leaders have focused on reducing the risk posed to their firefighters by that contaminated protective gear, one strategy has been the more frequent washing of that gear to remove those contaminants. One impediment to successfully implementing that strategy, however, has been getting freshly washed gear dry and ready for the next call.
GETTING PPE DRY: THE LATEST CHALLENGE
Lance Dornn, president and founder of Ram Air Gear Dryer, has been a firefighter and paramedic since 1991. He built his first gear dryer to properly care for the personal protective equipment in his fire department.
“We have seen a swing in the culture at the fire station. Dirty gear is no longer a badge of honor,” said Dornn. “Having a fast and effective way to put gear back into service is the new standard.”
To date, many fire departments have invested in the washer/extractor necessary to safely, effectively and efficiently clean and remove contaminants from turnout gear. However, while the washing process is in most cases less than an hour, many departments still lack the appropriate equipment to quickly dry that gear once it comes out of the wash process. According to Darren Kachkowski, director of sales and marketing at Ram Air Gear Dryer, that’s an impediment to firefighters using those washer/extractors.
“The problem is it usually takes around an hour to wash, it can take 24 to 48 hours to hang dry. If I was on shift today, I had a fire, and I want to wash my gear… I can’t because it’ll still be wet tomorrow. I’m back here in 12 hours and I need to be ready to go.”
And wearing PPE that’s not been thoroughly dried also poses a potential threat of a firefighter suffering a steam burn if they engage in interior structural firefighting wearing wet PPE.
RAM AIR GEAR DRYER
RAM Air has developed a full range of convenient and affordable dryers made exclusively for drying a firefighter’s personal protective equipment.
RAM Air’s patented and NFPA-compliant PPE dryers are designed to dry freshly washed gear quickly and completely, enabling fire departments to get their firefighters mission-ready faster.
RAM AIR’S TG-4 TURNOUT GEAR DRYER
RAM Air’s TG-4 Ambient Air Turnout Gear Dryer can dry up to four sets of PPE along with accessories (e.g., SCBA facepiece, helmets, gloves, boots, and hoods). In a temperature and humidity-controlled environment the dryer will dry in under four hours. When the heated air option is used, the TG-4H can dry that same clean turnout gear in two hours or less and will not exceed 105 F. The TG-4 and TG-4H touchscreen control safely ensures that the drying cycle complies with both OEM drying requirements and NFPA 1851’s recommendations for drying gear.
TARGETS HARD-TO-DRY AREAS
All Ram Air patented dryers employ a powerful fan that pushes air through gear from the inside out and uses flexible plastic mesh tubing that provides the flexibility necessary to ensure that air gets to all segments of a PPE element (e.g., sleeves on jackets and legs on pants) while limiting air loss and preventing air flow from following the path of least resistance.
“We have designed these dryers over the years to constantly increase our air flow to the hard to dry areas like the arm pits and thick seams. The ‘stickman’ configuration ensures adequate air flow to every part of the garment, ” said Kachkowski.
The result? More effective and efficient drying those hard-to-reach areas and vapor barriers in gear that are prone to develop mold and mildew if not dried properly. And an increased ability to dry more PPE ensembles in the same amount of time.
FLEXIBILITY FOR ALL GEAR COMPONENTS
The dryers are more than just an effective way to dry coats and pants. Each unit comes fully loaded with at least four helmet dryers and 12 component ports for drying all PPE elements (e.g., helmets, gloves, boots, and SCBA facepieces).
FLEXIBILITY FOR LOCATING THE TG-4 IN YOUR FIRE STATION
The ambient air dryers are a piece of “plug and go” equipment. According to Kachkowski, there’s no special installation necessary (e.g., wiring for a 220V outlet or venting to the building exterior). “We ship it to your department in five major pieces and two firefighters can assemble the dryer in 10 minutes, plug it in, and you’re in business.”
The dryers come with casters and, when fully assembled, can fit through a standard-sized doorway in a fire station. That makes for a very mobile piece of equipment that can be located anywhere in the fire station. Give it a fixed location or tuck it away until it’s need because one firefighter can easily move it.
Take your fire department’s cancer risk reduction efforts to the next phase by considering a TG-4 from Ram Air Gear Dryer for your fire station. Cleaning dirty and contaminated PPE is only half the job – and the job isn’t finished until the gear is dry.
Visit Ram Air Gear Dryer.com to learn more.