Posted by vsmith | Care and Usage, Fire and Rescue, General, Health, PPE, Performance, Safety
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 7:04 am

PPE for training: Is rental right for you?

In these tough economic times, your fire department is probably looking for ways to make equipment last longer. Although most people agree that regular maintenance is necessary to get the most out of your PPE, extraordinary usage can cause unexpected wear and tear. Unfortunately, conditions in a catastrophic situation can lead to extraordinary use, and that can’t be helped. A common event, such as fire fighter training, is often harder on PPE than normal use. This is particularly true for recruit training and Fire Fighter 1 & 2 courses that require months to complete. Sometimes the damage sustained is equal to two or three years of use.

Also, many departments are purchasing fewer sets of new gear and replacing gear less frequently. New gear is often issued to new recruit classes, although not all recruits will finish the program. This means that new gear becomes un-issued used gear, and re-issue could be dependent on size and condition.

Renting PPE can cost a fraction of the price to purchase. A good rental program can provide excellent value for fire fighter training because it saves wear and tear on your fire department’s PPE. Just like any outsourced service, you need to evaluate different programs to ensure that you are being provided high-quality and safe products for a fair price; plus you must always ensure that you read the fine print in the rental contract. Extra charges incurred at the end of the contract can reduce your savings.

What Should I Look For In a Rental Program?

So you’ve decided to investigate renting gear for training purposes. A good rental program can provide excellent value for fire fighter training, because it saves wear and tear on your fire department’s PPE while providing your fire fighters the protection they need. Just like any outsourced service, you need to evaluate different programs to ensure that you select one that meets your needs, provides good condition NFPA 1971 compliant PPE and nets you real cost savings.

A rental program provided by a company with your fire fighters’ safety in mind will guarantee that the PPE supplied meets the current standard. It isn’t reconditioned gear, but gear purchased new specifically to rent. Some rental companies provide a mismatch of reconditioned gear that they purchase from fire departments for a few cents on the dollar. In these cases, it isn’t unusual to find rental gear that is nearly 10 years old and several NFPA 1971 editions behind.

The rental company should provide documentation verifying that all items have been cleaned, inspected and repaired in compliance with NFPA 1851 and after every rental. Remember PPE used in training often receives more wear and tear than normal use, so you should look for programs where rental items are well maintained.

There is wide variance in rental prices, but beware of prices that are substantially lower than the competition.  Read the fine print in the rental contract. If the rental company charges for cleaning, inspection and/or repair after the rental period, the extra charges can add significant cost to the rental price. In fact, extra charges can make the complete price to rent higher than a seemingly higher inclusive rental price.

In addition to price, there are also major differences in lead time. The lead time is affected by the company’s commitment to investing in inventory. So if you need to order three or four weeks in advance, the company probably doesn’t own much inventory. You could run into a problem if the rental company is waiting for other renters to return items or if you receive your PPE and it doesn’t fit. If you require PPE quickly or by a certain date, you should look for a company that guarantees shipment in a timeframe that suits your purpose and allows time if an exchange is necessary.

The good news is it is easy to compare programs. Most rental programs are offered or advertised on the internet; therefore you can see descriptions of the products being rented and the terms and conditions of the rental contract. Most provide phone numbers, so you can confirm information on the programs that you find most suitable. You will find that there are rental programs offered that include current edition PPE at economical prices in short lead times. These programs can offer cost savings and great value to your department. They save wear and tear on your PPE while providing your fire fighters the protection they need.

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