As a firefighter, your and others' safety is always a top priority. Sufficient and proper safety gear and equipment can literally mean the difference between life and death. Situations get dangerous and out of control quickly, which is why it's so important to check and maintain your equipment regularly.
Your personal and operational apparatus' must be in optimal condition every day. This includes maintaining your bunker gear's sanitary condition to comply with health and safety standards.
Learn more about the importance of inspecting your firefighting equipment regularly, how it can prevent equipment failure and some frequently asked questions regarding firefighter equipment and bunker gear inspection and maintenance.
How Regular Inspections Can Prolong the Life of Firefighting Equipment
Regular firefighting equipment inspections are essential but what does the equipment entail? There's an extensive range but the main components include:
- Air tanks
- Fire hoses
- Fire pumps
- Monitor nozzles
- Firewater valve
- Firewater piping
- Elevated monitors
- Rescue equipment
- Fire detection systems
- Gas detection equipment
- Thermal imaging equipment
- Water distribution equipment
- Fire hydrants and extinguishers
- Bunker gear — pants, coats, gloves, boots, suspenders, hoods, helmets and flash suits.
Inspecting equipment helps you identify any issues so you can fix them immediately. Without regular inspections, you risk using equipment that isn't fully functional.
Inspecting equipment frequently helps prolong its life because you ensure it's in optimal condition for use. Any required repairs help restore it to an improved condition for an extended life span.
Understanding the Life Span of Firefighting Equipment
Firefighting equipment lasts for years with proper care. The equipment is categorized into portable and fixed gear. Portable equipment includes things firefighters require to perform their jobs on the move, like fire hoses, reels, nozzles and blankets.
Fixed gear entails equipment in locations with numerous occupants at high risk, like apartment buildings with fire hydrants and sprinkler systems. This remains stationary for firefighters to gain quick and easy access in case of a fire. It also ensures the building complies with fire safety equipment standards.
Firefighting equipment includes personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be worn during service. Fire-resistant clothes, helmets, boots and other gear protect firefighters and are made of highly durable materials. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1851 requires PPE or bunker gear to be replaced every 10 years.
Some factors that can affect the firefighting equipment life span include:
Wear and Tear
Physical characteristics of equipment deteriorate over time as firefighters engage in their duties. Monitors, nozzles, valves, caps and reels are among the items that are used each time. Small parts can easily break or get lost if used frequently, so they must be inspected daily.
For example, self-contained breathing apparatus (SBCA) are used in fires and are one of the most important equipment to inspect and maintain. This is due to the nature and frequency of its use. Parts may need more frequent replacing as they directly interact with extreme heat.
The necessary equipment type is determined by the fire and location size. This means that some equipment may hardly be used while others are required. With infrequent usage, equipment often stays in good condition.
Wear and tear is prevalent for active departments while others use their PPE less frequently and most gear can be cleaned and restored for prolonged usage.
Material and Design
All firefighting equipment is made of highly durable materials to withstand heat and other elements. Any flaws in the design and execution can compromise the job. Equipment must be purchased or rented from a reputable company to ensure you always comply with fire safety standards.
The Role of Maintenance in Prolonging Equipment Life
Regular firefighter equipment inspections and maintenance prolong its life. Daily pre-shift checks are an effective way to keep track of inspections before any job. Being prepared is as important as the execution because of the minor yet imperative details it includes. Inventory checks create awareness of what you have as you inspect each item.
Some equipment must be checked daily while others are inspected monthly, quarterly or yearly. Regardless of the frequency, updating your records with each inspection helps understand where along the life cycle they may be. You can also preempt maintenance and services accordingly.
Different maintenance options can help extend firefighting equipment life:
- Equipment maintenance schedule: This illustrates the equipment maintenance requirement plan, including who should undertake the maintenance, when and what was done. It is accessible to all for full accountability and transparency.
- Reactive maintenance: Easy to implement and requiring minimal training, this form of maintenance can lead to higher risks of breakdowns, overtime and unsafe working environments.
- Preventative maintenance: Efforts to keep equipment from malfunctioning improve with preventative maintenance. It requires more training but helps extend equipment life span by preventing breakdowns.
- Predictive maintenance: Expensive to implement yet highly effective in increasing equipment life span by reducing excessive upkeep. The current equipment condition is monitored to help optimize working time.
Bunker Gear Specialists offer extensive repair and maintenance services on various firefighting equipment and other industries. Count on us for the best return on your investment through our excellent service.
How Regular Inspections Can Prevent Firefighting Equipment Failures
Failing equipment can cost more than just money but possibly lives, too. With regular inspections, you reduce this risk. A direct correlation exists between equipment maintenance and firefighter safety. Ill-maintained equipment can jeopardize firefighters' safety if it leads to equipment failure.
Consider the potential dangers of failing equipment and the importance of regular inspections.
The Risks of Equipment Failure
The biggest risk of equipment failure is that it can lead to injury or death. It could be a direct or indirect result but the consequences are dire for firefighters and those they are helping. Breathing equipment failure like degraded masks and faulty PPE contributes to immediate health risks. Other long-term risks include:
- Chronic respiratory disease
- Heart diseases and heart attacks
- Burns, smoke inhalation, lung damage and asthma
The Role of Inspections in Preventing Failures
Regular inspections serve as a safeguard in identifying and possibly preventing dangerous situations before they become critical. Thorough inspections are sometimes done using a firefighting equipment inspection checklist and may include some of these criteria:
- A detailed schedule of equipment
- Yes/no question-based observations and comments
- A fire safety log book
- The responsible person's signature
- Any equipment inventory issued
Bunker Gear Specialists offers expert and detailed equipment inspections for complete ease of mind.
Firefighter Equipment FAQs
We've compiled a few frequently asked questions that may interest or help you understand the frequency of fire equipment maintenance and inspections.
- How often should firefighter PPE be inspected? Firefighter PPE should be inspected in detail at least once every six months, although this can vary depending on how often it's worn and how old it is. Less frequent inspections help ensure the gear stays in good working condition whenever used. PPE must also be cleaned when clothing is soiled or contaminated in a fire.
- When should fire service training equipment be inspected? Firefighters should inspect their training equipment twice a year or as often as necessary to maintain its integrity. This also varies based on the equipment's age and condition.
- Why is it important to maintain firefighting equipment? Maintaining all forms of firefighting equipment ensures safety and effectiveness in delivering required services.
Contact Bunker Gear Specialists for Comprehensive Firefighting Equipment Inspection and Maintenance Services
Bunker Gear Specialists understands your needs. We are experts in firefighting equipment maintenance and repair and fully compliant with fire protection industry requirements. Some services require manufacturer certification and should be left to the professionals — that's us. Trust us to handle your equipment inspection and maintenance needs.
If you need our services, call us at 225-644-4545 or fill out a contact form for a free service quote.