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Grant helps keep firefight gear clean

Among firefighters, dirty turnout gear is something of a prideissue – nobody wants to roll off the truck with shiny gear thatimplies they haven’t seen any action.

But recent studies show that it’s better to wash turnout gear.The reason is the dirt and soot will break down the fibers in thegear, thus reducing the equipment’s ability to keep heat off afirefighter.

Monticello Fire Department Capt. Jared Evans said the turnoutwasher and dryer that the fire department just acquired through afederal Assistance to Firefighters Grant will help MFD keep theirgear in working condition for at least a little longer.

“The dirtier your gear is, it looks like you’ve done something,”he said. “If you could keep your gear cleaned so it’s similar tonew condition by washing it correctly, fibers aren’t going to breakdown nearly as fast.”

Fire department personnel assembled the dryer Monday, and thewasher is under construction, Evans said. While turnout gear willoften take up to a week to dry after being thoroughly soaked in afire, or after it’s been washed, the dryer will take care of notonly the gear, but also boots, in just a matter of hours.

“I haven’t played with it yet, but it shouldn’t take more thanthree or four hours,” he said. “The inside gets fairly warm. Wehaven’t got the washer quite put together yet or I would have triedit out already.”

Evans wrote the grant for MFD and has helped other departmentsin Lincoln and Lawrence counties acquire equipment through federalgrants. He said he knew a washer and dryer for gear would be agreat investment for the 5 percent of $13,000- $14,000 thedepartment would pay simply because it would save money in thefuture on gear.

“Your gear needs to be washed, surely after every fire,particularly if you got to get in there and play and got nasty,” hesaid. “The longer you leave that junk on there, the more breakingdown is occurring.”

And Evans said the washer and dryer will also save firefighterssome time with a scrub brush and soap.

“They used to say, ‘Why can’t you just scrub your gear? Peoplehave been scrubbing gear for years,'” he said. “If just scrubbingwas good enough, nobody would have washers or dryers at the house,we’d still be scrubbing our clothes.”