Device blow dries turnouts, hazmat suits
Volume 23, No. 6
Industrial fire brigades want the maximum use from their turnout and hazmat gear. Unfortunately, damage from actually fighting fire and mopping up spills is not the only source of wear and tear. Improper drying of turnout and hazmat gear can dramatically affect the gear's life and protective value.
C & H Dehydrators, Inc., the new direct sales agent and main distributor for Archimedes Products, Inc., distributes a special line of patented products designed to more carefully dry personal protective equipment. The dehydrator is designed to blow ambient warm air from the bottom up through the interior of a firefighter's coat, bunker pants, boots, gloves, SCBA face pieces, and water/ice/rescue suits, while hanging on hangers and or placed upon aluminum adapters within a welded aluminum frame.
The turnout gear dehydrator consists of a hand welded structural aluminum frame, with a "life time structural warranty." The blower, heating elements and other electrical components are housed in a welded aluminum diamond plate box. They come in (110 volts) for the four station and (220 volts) for both the six? and eight station units. Modifications on dryers such as electrical transformers have and will be made for overseas purchases.
The heated turnout gear dehydrator is being used in more than 475 fire stations nationwide, overseas and in Canada. While fire departments are the biggest users, armed forces, airports, and training facilities also use them.
"We are not entirely new to the industrial fire brigades," said Caroline Sobota, sales and operations director. Among the companies using the dehydrators are DuPont, ConocoPhillips, GE, Eli Lily and Brookhaven National Labs.
"Our Turnout Gear Dehydrator uses approved NFPA methods that are also recommended by gear manufacturers," Sobota said. "Forced air ventilation allows the gear to dry quickly and safely."
NFPA 1851 specifies the minimum selection, care and maintenance requirements for structural fire fighting protective ensembles. The standard aims at reducing the safety risks and potential health hazards related to turnout gear care, maintenance and repair. It also protects firefighters, their families and the public from possible contamination.
The standard does not recommend tumble drying for turnout gear, Sobota said.
"The lining and the garment are beat up from the mechanical action, the basket temperatures of tumble dryers are high and that has been known to damage the gear. Another problem with tumble drying is the risk of cross contamination," Sobota said.
"The dehydrator has a temperature sensor to shut down the heater at 105 degrees F," Sobota said. "This is both a safety function as well as a damage-prevention function."
Dehydrators are available with four, six and eight stations. The eight station dehydrator can dry four sets of gear at once. Drying a set of turnout gear using the dehydrator takes 3? hours after using a washer-extractor on average. When wet from bad weather, it will take one-fourth the normal time.
"Advantages are the longer shelf life and cost savings in gear maintenance," Sobota said. "Most important, you are taking care of the firefighters by protecting them from potential harm inherent in wearing wet gear while preserving expensive gear."
Four years ago, C & H Dehydrators began to market a version of the device designed for hazmat suits. "People who owned hazmat suits said it took days to dry them," Sobota said. "The suits would breed bacteria or disintegrate, so they often had to be discarded. It internally dries suits safely and rapidly, on average in 45 minutes." This rapid drying allows for the immediate availability and reissue of the suit when needed.
The hazmat suit dehydrator tends to make people smile the first time they see it, Sobota said. With the non-heated "forced air ventilation method" inflating the suit, it looks as if some unseen occupant is standing on his head over the device.
The original and current manufacturer of the dehydrators is a 39-year-old advanced metal working manufacturer who also machines precision machine parts/prototypes. Archimedes continues to maintain after 18 years a "Dock to Stock" certification with Gull Parker-Hannifen as one of its many customers, exemplifying it's "high quality" standards. Both Archimedes and C&H reside in Bohemia, NY.