The topic of operational hygiene has become increasingly important in recent years and has been discussed and researched more than ever before. As a manufacturer of protective clothing and technical devices, Rosenbauer is naturally also intensively involved in this.
"Hygiene" refers to the totality of all measures that serve to prevent disease and to maintain, promote, and strengthen health. In the context of firefighting, this means not only protection against harmful substances during deployment, primarily through respiratory protection and personal protective equipment (PPE), but also protection against substances that are hazardous to health after deployment.
Harmful substances in use.
"Contamination" is generally understood as the polluting of objects, rooms, water, food, or people with harmful substances. Depending on the substance, it may react in the human body in a way that is toxic to reproduction, mutagenic, carcinogenic, acute or chronically toxic, difficult to break down and/or can accumulate in the body.
Incorporation refers to the absorption of foreign substances into the body. Due to various circumstances, pollutants can be incorporated, even with protective equipment. The aim of operational hygiene is to minimize incorporation.
"Decontamination" refers to the removal of one or more harmful substances from a surface or even from the underlying layers. Personal protective equipment, devices, and vehicles are decontaminated after use to prevent or maximally reduce potential contamination and hazards to emergency personnel.
A comprehensive hygiene concept is drawn up in advance and integrated into training. The correct way to put on PPE should also be given practical training.
When setting up the vehicle at the place of use, the wind and ventilation direction should be taken into account. In addition, doors, windows and equipment compartments of the vehicle are closed if they are not needed immediately. Ventilation and air conditioning systems in the vehicles must also be switched off.
Immediately after deployment.
Initially, the initial cleaning of contaminated forces is carried out by washing the hands, neck and face. In order to keep the amount of PAH absorbed through the skin as small as possible, you should shower as quickly as possible. Only then are non-replaceable PPE roughly cleaned (boots, possibly helmet, gloves).
In the rework, the devices and vehicles are finely cleaned and respiratory protective devices and PPE are reprocessed. Finally, an explosion documentation is created.
Safe undressing and body cleaning.
Take off PPE.
After leaving the smoke zone immediately, you should allow volatile smoke gases to ventilate for a few minutes. The boots are then roughly cleaned, the helmet is taken off and the gloves are taken off. When taking off clothing, always ensure that skin contact with the contaminated substances is avoided.
When cleaning for the first time, hands are first washed thoroughly with soap and, if necessary, with a brush. The face and ears as well as the neck and throat are also cleaned with water, soap or cleaning cloths. Visibly contaminated or soiled parts of the body must be cleaned and changed clothes.
Take a shower as soon as possible, if possible on site or in the fire station. First take a cool shower so that the skin pores remain closed and toxic particles can be removed by thorough lathering and scrubbing. You can then take a warm shower if you like.
Safe handling of contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) and devices.
In order to be able to clean and transport the contaminated PPE as best as possible, a few preparations must be made: All accessories, such as carabiners or lamps, must be removed and the contents of the bag emptied. This should be packed in a zip bag and cleaned or replaced yourself.
After all zippers and Velcro strips are completely closed, the PPE parts are placed in a laundry bag / container and labeled with a documentation form. The breathing apparatus is placed separately in another laundry bag / container and also labeled with a documentation form.
The contaminated PPE is cleaned by trained specialists from the fire brigade or a service provider. The use of FFP3 masks, disposable gloves, aprons and protective goggles is suitable for protecting staff. The textile PPE components are cleaned using special industrial washing machines with fire brigade programs and special detergents in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
An appropriate washing machine is provided for cleaning the helmet, gloves and boots of the breathing apparatus in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The drying and, if necessary, the impregnation is also carried out according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the PPE and the device parts have been checked for damage and, if necessary, replaced or repaired, washing documentation is created for the items of clothing / devices. Finally, the clothing can be provided as personal equipment or pool linen.