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Reducing Health Risks for Firefighters

Together with the Swedish Healthy Firefighters program, Electrolux Professional has developed a new method to decontaminate clothing and other equipment exposed to hazardous substances during fires that cannot be eliminated with a standard concept.

” The Barrier washers are setting a benchmark for all fire brigades throughout Sweden and as a result of the successful collaboration, the method is being shared as a best practice example in other countries.”

Fire fighters are exposed to serious risks on the job, facing heat, flames, physical & mental stress, high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) and other toxic risks in the areas around fires. A recent study reveals that the number of cancer cases among Swedish firefighters had risen over the last few years. To tackle therising issue, Electrolux Professional and its branch in Sweden were approached by a group of national organisations including the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and the Swedish Firefighters Union. The Healthy Firefighter, a nationwide programme, set out to find methods to minimize health risks for the country’s firefighters. Electrolux Professional Laundry Sweden worked closely with the Swedish Firefighters Union in the frame of this programme.

Firefighters’ uniforms get in contact with dangerous chemicals during fires and these substances cannot be eliminated with standard washing machines.

Barrier washers

Dirty linen is loaded on one side and clean linen is unloaded from another door opening into a separate room, giving functional separation. The barrier laundry system provides the highest level of control and traceability of the process and provides the best defence against the spreading of microorganism and cross infections.

Using an in-house laundry in such environments is more efficient, profitable, reliable and sustainable than relying on external providers. The in-house laundry solutions should be efficient to remove tough stains, soot, blood or oil while preserving important features like welded seams, reflective trims and highest protection with re-impregnation. Special cleanroom solutions support businesses with the highest hygiene demands.

The need

To help find the right process to minimize the risk for health and safety of firefighters in their daily work

A new method to decontaminate uniforms exposed to dangerous chemicals through fumes during fires was developed. The solution implies the use of barrier washers and water soluble bags to decontaminate firefighters’ uniforms from dangerous substances.

The Barrier concept was selected as the ideal solution and best defence against contaminations of uniforms and garments. These washers prevent all contact between dirty and clean
clothing, maximizing clinically hygienic textiles. Unique intelligent features such as Hygiene Watchdog, which ensures that the wash programme is fully completed before the washer can unload on the clean side, allows easy and safe management of the laundry process on the firefighters work premises.

By working closely with real users, in this case the Swedish Firefighters Union and actual firefighters in a station in the North of Sweden, Electrolux has been able to design a solution that perfectly matches their needs and truly makes the difference in their jobs and lives. The method is setting a benchmark for all fire brigades throughout Sweden and as a result of the successful collaboration, the method is being shared as a best practice example in other countries.

Contributed by Electrolux Professional




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