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How one chief found a new way to dry and store PPE at firehouses

A former assistant chief advocates for new open-grid lockers that promote airflow and better dry and store PPE


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How one chief found a new way to dry and store PPE at firehouses

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Sponsored by GearGrid

By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus

Ever see an issue at work and want to invent a solution?

GearGrid’s open-grid PPE drying and storage systems are designed and constructed to maximize a fire department’s ability to quickly dry and effectively store PPE. (photo/GearGrid)
GearGrid’s open-grid PPE drying and storage systems are designed and constructed to maximize a fire department’s ability to quickly dry and effectively store PPE. (photo/GearGrid)

That’s what Mike Boyer did. Boyer is a former assistant chief with the Taylors Falls, Minnesota, Fire Department. Boyer was co-owner of Mid-Minnesota Wire and Mfg., Inc. The product line, named GearGrid, was launched in 1998. In 2008, the name of the company was changed to GearGrid to more accurately reflect the strategic direction the company was heading to.

The GearGrid PPE storage system does it better and is an example of how fire personnel can invent new products to solve problems.

GEARGRID’S HISTORY

In early 1997, Boyer designed his first durable and well-ventilated storage system for the proper storage of his fire department’s PPE.

The system used coated-wire materials and processes from Mid-Minnesota Wire and Manufacturing, a company that focused on designing and building durable custom retail displays and more.

After conducting a market analysis for firefighting equipment storage, Boyer determined that there was a need for a more modern PPE storage system.

In 1998 he took that information, introduced a new product line, and the former Mid-Minnesota Wire and Manufacturing re-emerged as GearGrid to more accurately reflect the introduction of the GearGrid brand.

GearGrid expanded its product line over the next 10 years and quickly became the market leader for the storage of firefighting equipment, including PPE as well as hose, cylinder and miscellaneous gear and equipment.

The company supplies PPE storage systems and more to the Fire Department of New York, Los Angeles Fire Department and Houston Fire Department, as well as volunteer and rural departments throughout the United States.

GearGrid also provides storage systems to departments around the world, including Canada; European countries including Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain; and the Middle Eastern and Asian-Pacific markets.

PPE STORAGE

A set of structural firefighting PPE costs up to $2,000, depending on the manufacturer.

It is one of the most costly purchases a fire department makes, whether the gear is for new recruits or replacement gear for veteran firefighters. The investment needs to be properly cared for.

Also, there are several exposure risks for firefighters if the gear is not properly maintained. These include:

  • Risk of physical injury to the user of the gear.
  • Fiscal risk to the department if the gear doesn’t protect the user as specified due to loss of structural integrity.
  • Fiscal risk to the department if it must prematurely replace a set of turnout gear that has not been properly cared for.

To prolong the life of PPE and its protective fabric, it must be cleaned and stored properly. That’s why it is so important to have the right storage system.

PPE STORAGE SYSTEM

GearGrid’s open-grid PPE drying and storage systems are designed and constructed to maximize a fire department’s ability to quickly dry and effectively store PPE.

The system is constructed using heavy-duty, 1.25-inch tubing for the frame. The side and back panels consist of high-strength, .25-inch wire in a 3-inch by 3-inch square grid pattern. All frame and panel components are coated with a durable TGIC powder finish that can be customized using one of seven colors.

Storage lockers (both wall-mounted and mobile) come in locker sizes ranging from the basic model (18-inch W x 20-inch D x 74.50-inch H) to the super jumbo model (24-inch W x 24-inch D x 7.5-inch H). Each locker comes standard with two shelves constructed of .25-inch wire and three apparel hooks. The shelves can be adjusted in 3-inch increments, and doors are available for increased security.

GearGrid also offers a furring system so you can mount the system to walls with exposed conduit, pipes or other obstructions. This sets wall-mounted lockers off from the securing wall and the floor, providing better airflow. It is available in standard wall and floor offsets from 2-inch to 8-inch (for vertical and horizontal use).

PPE STORAGE ACCESSORIES

The GearGrid PPE storage system is flexible and modular, so it can be built to suit each customer’s needs.

To determine the size you need, the company offers an online wall space calculator. Enter the length of your available wall space, and the calculator determines what will fit best.

In addition, several accessories are available, including:

  • Electrical power bars (outlets).
  • Stow-away seats.
  • Retro-fit doors.
  • Glove drying hangers.
  • Lockable storage boxes for personal items.
  • Top-side storage shelf.
  • Gear-dryer hangers (to keep the coat and pants open for better airflow).
  • Helmet holder (protects internal suspension and aid in drying).
  • Locker shields (protects gear from dust and debris between uses, deters removal of gear in shared-use facilities and protect gear from harmful UV rays, helping prolong the life of PPE).

CONCLUSION

The GearGrid line of PPE storage products can provide fire departments with a cost-effective solution to properly dry and store PPE in the firehouse as its open-grid construction promotes better airflow around wet PPE, which means less time for PPE to dry and safer gear for firefighters.

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