Trending Topics

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Thank you for reading and supporting our efforts.

Suds, scrubs and safety: Firefighter decon wipes and soaps to get your hands on

Saving lives is the name of the game, but with proper decon, the life you save may be your own

FR1EMS1 - Affiliate images (14).png

Alright, fellow firefighters and fire officers, gather round for a chat about something as vital as knowing the quickest route to a structure fire: decontamination. We’re diving into the realm of scrubbing off those grimy remnants after a grueling battle with “the dragon” because, let’s be real, saving lives is the name of the game, but with proper decon, the life you save may be your own.

Why self-decon is a skin savior

First things first, why should we bother with self-decon? Well, apart from wanting to smell less like a walking barbecue, it’s all about protecting our skin. Think of it as our personal armor against some of the visible and invisible foes we face on the job, like carcinogens and other nasty stuff lurking in the smoke, soot and other products of combustion.

By giving ourselves a thorough scrub-down post-call, we’re washing away some of those unseen threats and lowering the risk of absorbing them through our skin. Plus, who doesn’t feel revitalized and ready for action after a good scrub or a shower?

There are many articles on decon procedures and best practices. Here’s one of many:

Researchers measured carcinogen exposure on turnout gear and firefighters’ skin to compare decon methods

Key features

Now, let’s get down to business: finding the top-notch wipes and personal care products to get the job done right. Here’s the lowdown on what to look for:

  • Tough on grime, gentle on skin: Seek out products that can take on the toughest residues without leaving our skin feeling like sandpaper. We need something that’s hard on the bad stuff but kind to our hardworking hides.
  • Non-irritating formulas: Our skin already takes a beating – let’s not add insult to injury with harsh chemicals. Opt for wipes and products with gentle, non-irritating formulas that won’t leave us itching out of our skin.
  • Quick and convenient: When we’re back at the station or even better when still on the scene, time is of the essence. Choose wipes and products that are quick and easy to use, so we can get cleaned up and back to saving the day in a flash.
  • Portable powerhouses: Whether we’re battling blazes or responding to other emergencies on the fly, our decon supplies need to be as portable as we are. Look for products that are easy to stash in our gear or tote on the truck for those moments when we need them most.

Go-to products

Some great options for fire wipes and soaps include the following:

The maker of these wipes states that they remove 98% of carcinogens, ash, soot and toxins.
These wipes are uniquely formulated with micellar water, an innovative ingredient with cleansing compounds that dissolve dirt, oil, soot and other hydrocarbons.
This product can be used to decontaminate PPE either manually or used with a gear extractor or other PPE laundering machine.

Why department purchase is key – but personal purchase works, too

Now, I can hear the murmurs: “Why should the department shell out money for personal care products?” Well, my friends, it all boils down to safety and solidarity.

When our departments hook us up with the gear we need to stay safe and get clean, it’s a clear signal that they’ve got our backs, just like we’ve got each other’s on the fireground. Plus, bulk and government buying power means they can snag some killer deals on top-quality products that might be out of reach for individual wallets.

But hey, if department coffers are running tighter than tree bark, don’t worry. Investing in our own personal care products is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing we’re taking care of ourselves. Plus, a few bucks spent now could save us a mountain of medical bills and sick time down the line.

The final word: Decon, no matter what

As we wrap up this discussion, here’s a friendly reminder: Even if wipes or specialized fire soaps aren’t at arm’s reach, don’t skip out on the decon. Grab some good ol’ soap and water and give yourself a thorough scrubbing. And remember, no wipes or on-scene decon can ever replace showering as soon as possible after an incident, swapping nomex hoods, and giving your fire gear a proper wash ASAP.

Look into your department’s SOG or policy on decon, follow it, and if you don’t have one, GET ONE! Limit your exposure time when possible and take care of each other.

There you have it, when it comes to firefighter decon, it’s all about suds, scrubs and safety. Let’s arm ourselves with the best wipes, soaps and personal care products out there, because when we take care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to take care of those who need us most. Stay safe out there, and always remember: Cleanliness is next to saltiness!

Matt Knollman is the Unit 3 battalion chief for Liberty Township Fire in Butler County, Ohio, and a content developer for Lexipol. He is the operations rescue team manager for the Butler County Technical Rescue Team. Knollman also works as an instructor for a local trade school, teaching multiple disciplines including fire, EMS, instructor, command and officer training. He enjoys teaching wilderness first aid and high-angle rope techniques to youth as part of the Boy Scouts of America. Knollman received his associate degree from Cincinnati State.