Proper education for elected officials = proper PPE for firefighters

During a council meeting held on Sept. 23, one city council member in Xenia, Ohio, was clearly not onboard with purchasing seven sets of turnout gear that would replace sets of gear more than five years old for which the city had already budgeted. He proposed that maybe firefighters should be responsible for purchasing their own gear. He also questioned why they couldn’t just wear the gear of six firefighters that were recently laid off.

Xenia’s fire chief hit the nail on the head when he educated the council members on the importance of firefighter safety. He explained that turnout gear is custom made for each firefighter. Manufacturers sew the gear based on their chest size, sleeve length, waist and inseam.

The chief also described that their gear is inspected, maintained and repaired monthly, if necessary, in order for their department to wear safe gear that meets NFPA standards. Gear that is damaged beyond repair must be replaced.

According to NFPA 1851, turnout gear must be retired after 10 years from the date of manufacturer. That’s not the same as the date it goes into service. Useful life of turnout gear is normally three to five years in service, depending on the materials making up the outer shell, thermal liner, and moisture barrier, and the conditions of wear, maintenance and storage. Useful life is highly unlikely to be more than seven years.

This is a perfect example of the importance of educating city officials on firefighter safety in regards to personal protective equipment. One way is to make sure you and your department have read and understand NFPA standards. Another way is to read the user guides that each manufacturer is responsible for supplying with each garment they produce. There is a lot of important information in the user guides including retirement and disposal of the garment that could help in making decisions concerning firefighter’s safety.

2 thoughts on “Proper education for elected officials = proper PPE for firefighters”

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how naive our politians can be. As Chief Dalzell stated above, “Just because they’re elected doesn’t make them smart.” There is not a truer statement. Let’s put them in a set of 5 year old gear that has been condemned and send them in to fight a fire. They have no idea what our firefighters really do.

  2. I’m a Fire Chief in my community and I have to tell you that this meeting is like any council meeting I attend when asking for basic equipment. I’ve heard things like “Why do we need two fire trucks” (Our closest mutual aid community is 3.5 hours away)”Why don’t you raise money for a fire truck? You could do a bake sale.” “Do we really need a Fire department?” Just because they’re elected doesn’t make them smart.

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