There are several reasons why we wear all of this PPE, primarily it is for the safety and health of our firefighters. Our number one priority is life safety, both of the firefighter and of the people that we serve. If the firefighter is not properly protected with the proper PPE, then they themselves may become a victim or patient, which can hinder our operations (solving the problem at hand). When firefighters responded to certain calls, different PPE is used, based upon that call
PPE can range greatly in cost. As with many things, there are a lot of factors that play into how much something costs. All of our PPE must meet or exceed NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1971 and 1977 compliance. Each piece of our PPE can range in cost as well, depending on what we are put on it or what it is made up of. MRFD tends to lead more towards the middle when it comes to buying of PPE, it isn’t the lowest cost, but it isn’t the most expensive either. On average this is what is spent on Structural PPE and Wildland PPE for EACH individual/ member.
The average cost for structural PPE (not including the SCBA and SCBA mask) is $2,000
The average cost for Wildland PPE is $1,000
The costs above do not include repairs. The repairs depend on what needs to be repaired and how much material is to be used to make the repair and the time to do the repair.
The reason we don’t share PPE is sanitary reasons and also because of the different sizes of each individual. Not only that, but then you have to consider if someone comes in for station coverage and the person that they are sharing PPE with is already on the call, that person at the station can do nothing if another call comes up. It comes down to having enough manpower and PPE at both the incident and also for coverage at the fire station as well.
We follow NFPA 1851 (standard care and maintenance of PPE) as closely as possible. This is also part of our policies and procedures. Basically broken down, it says that we will store our PPE out of sunlight as much as possible, wash our PPE after every working fire or every 6 months, and have both routine and advanced (yearly) inspections.
Several of our members have been trained by the manufacturers on best care practices for the PPE that has been purchased. Those trained staff members then educate the other members, so that MRFD gets the most out of our purchases.
The short answer is 10 years. But with that being said, it comes down to many factors if that gear will last 10 years. Rips, tears, and exposures can play a large role in how long gear will last.
If the PPE reaches its 10-year mark and is still in good condition, then we keep it for training purposes only. When we say training purposes this is for new recruits, as the academy they go through can be very rigorous and beat up the PPE quite a bit. We don’t allow live-fire training in out of date or out of service PPE, which again comes down to safety.