Fire Department Idar-Oberstein
Simpler than manual cleaning ‑ plus no contact with detergents or disinfectants
Working in the fire service is often about acting fast and relying on instinct – but there are some jobs which take time and careful planning. Jörg Riemer, Fire Chief of the Idar-Oberstein Volunteer Fire Department, Udo Schuff, head of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment, and Klaus Schneider are all fully trained BA equipment managers. They manage the equipment used by the 150 active firefighters deployed in this town in the Hunsrück region of Germany. Famous as a gemstone centre, Idar-Oberstein's fire service may be run on a volunteer basis, but these three men are municipal employees. They work full-time to ensure that all the firefighters' gear works perfectly in the event of an emergency – including the personal protective equipment (PPE) that all their colleagues rely on.
"We tried so many different ways of finding a sensible solution to clean BA and respirator masks" recalls Udo Schuff. He and his colleagues, who are all in their 50s, tried putting the individual mask components in a cloth bag and washing them in the washing machine they use for the firefighters' duty gear.
"But unfortunately it didn't work well enough so we had to finish off the cleaning by hand," Schuff says. "We're grateful to the city council for approving the purchase of a TopClean M in their budget. We've been using the machine to clean our 250 masks and regulators since September 2014," Schuff says enthusiastically. Schuff's colleague Jörg Riemer emphasises that one of the biggest advantages of the new solution is that "none of our full-time or volunteer equipment managers come into contact with detergents or disinfectants any more".
This is a key point, especially for Udo Schuff. He suffers from a chronic lung disease which means he is no longer able to wear breathing apparatus sets. His colleague Klaus Schneider is equally pleased with the decision they made: "The machine is exceptionally easy to use and actually produces better results than manual cleaning."