Ozone cleaning – the next generation of turnout gear cleaning?

Although it is becoming widely accepted that PPE and especially turnout gear needs to be cleaned regularly, a question still remains on the balance between cleaning well enough to rid it of potential hazards and gentle enough to ensure it isn’t damaged during the cleaning process. The NFPA 1851 includes cleaning procedures and recommended equipment that are intended to establish this balance. However, is there an alternate technology to conventional methods that boosts cleaning power while being less stressful to the garment? Ozone cleaning technology provides enhanced soil removal, powerful disinfection and reduced garment wear and tear.

Ozone cleaning systems have been around for more than a decade. They have seen increased use during the past five years in institutional settings such as hospitals, senior care facilities and hotels. The reason that they are becoming popular is that they are capable of reducing pathogenic bacterial levels on garments and linens by 99.9992%. Also, due to reduced wash cycle time coupled with elimination of chlorine bleach and hot water, the life of the items is often increased.

For ozone cleaning technology, a process called oxidation, which is the chemical process of oxygen combining with another element or substance, makes things happen. It attacks most organic soils and kills bacteria 3200 times faster than chlorine bleach. Ozone works best in cold water. It is completely biodegradable and when it has done its job, it turns back into oxygen, leaving no chemical residues behind.

Ozone cleaning is already being used on turnout gear and other machine washable PPE in England. In addition to the benefit of biological decontamination during normal “advanced” cleaning, it provides better removal of oil, carbons and other fireground contaminants than conventional methods. Also, garments retain their color better since the process is less taxing – no pre-treatment, no scrubbing, use of cold water wash and shorter wash cycle.

If an independent service provider (ISP) was to offer ozone cleaning would your department consider the benefits good enough to:

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