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Fire department to install special washer, dryer for gear

Brookhaven fire fighters will soon finally be able to get their gear cleaned the right way.

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen approved Tuesday the purchase of a turnout gear washer extractor and drying cabinet for the city’s fire department. The cost of $18,805 was the lowest bid from the two submitted, and came from Pellerin Laundry Machinery.

“Turnouts” refers to the personal protective gear worn by fire fighters that civilians typically refer to as a uniform — insulated pants, jacket, gloves, etc. The gear can absorb smoke, soot, fire suppression foam and other materials during use.

“When was the last time (the department) had one?” Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore asked BFD Chief Jeff Ainsworth.

“Since never,” Ainsworth replied. “We’ve never had one of these.”

The machines are not the typical washer and dryer you would find in a residence, Ainsworth said. They are made specifically to remove carcinogens from the gear fire fighters must wear when responding to a fire. The washer not only cleans the gear but also eliminates the hazardous materials that would otherwise become trapped in a typical washing machine, the chief explained.

The dryer is a standing cabinet in which the turnouts will be hung to dry, rather than a tumble-style clothes dryer.

The washer and dryer will be located at Station 2 on North First Street and available for use by every station. A fitted bay for the addition of such machines was included in the design and construction of the city’s newest station.

“The machines are intended to help prolong the life of our turnouts, which do eventually wear out,” Ainsworth said. “We want to get every bit of life out of them as possible.”