Performing a Routine PPE Inspection

While the NFPA recommends retiring personal protective equipment (PPE) 10 years after its purchase date, a variety of factors contribute to how long the gear will last- including exposure to elements, heat, and more. However, maintaining and regularly inspecting the gear will ensure your clients get the most out of the equipment. Two common questions that firefighters ask is what the life of the equipment should be and what an inspection routine should include. In this article, we will discuss how firefighters can extend the life of their equipment by creating a thorough inspection and maintenance plan. In addition, now is a great time to evaluate your clients’ Firefighter Portable and Mobile Equipment Insurance. After the equipment is cleaned with non-chlorinated soap and completely dried, it’s time to inspect it.

Inspect the outer/inner shell.

According to Fire Rescue Magazine, many outer shell materials will “tell on themselves” if the garment has taken too much or a large heat shot by losing color or degrading (e.g., Nomex will show dye sublimation at lower temperatures than PBI, undyed or natural color fabric may show a color shift). If you see degradation or discoloration of any kind, check the material for strength (by simply attempting to push your thumb through the material) or remove it from service until an advanced inspection can be conducted. Check all major seams for snags, tears or other damage to seams and material.

Next, check the moisture and thermal layer for discoloration or holes. If the material has turned reddish-purple like a bruise, it’s time to replace it. Further, check for rips, snags or missing batting anywhere on the uniform. This is your clients’ first line of defense in a fire, so weathered equipment should not be taken lightly.

Inspect the small things, too.

Check helmets for cracks, dents and abrasions. Next, examine gloves and footwear to ensure there are no holes, punctures, thermal damage or shrinkage. Don’t forget to look at the tread on footwear, and check for loss of water resistance; exposed or deformed steel toe, steel midsole and steel shank; and closure functionality (if applicable), says the article.

Lastly, all reflective elements should be properly attached and well aluminized. Be sure to check that helmet covers and shrouds are installed properly, as well.

About Provident Fire Plus

At Provident Fire Plus, we understand the risks that volunteer firefighting departments face on a regular basis. Our unique underwriting goes beyond what is typically included in insurance policies, extending coverage to commercial autos, line of duty protection, damage to third party property, and more. For more information about our comprehensive policies and how we can work for your clients, contact us today at (855) 201-8880.