New wet cleaning process for firefighting clothing delivers improved results

Published:  02 August, 2013

Bristol’s PPE managed services, widely used by fire & rescue services, the ambulance service and industrial customers, has been substantially enhanced by the introduction of a new wet cleaning process which yields improved cleaning results. A 3-year development and trials evaluation, involving both Miele and Kreussler, has led to the introduction of a radically changed wash programme.


In a long-term project to identify and evaluate a number of different options, alternative technologies and processes were assessed, including ozone cleaning which uses a chemical cleaning process. Bristol’s new wet cleaning process was eventually selected on its merits and, in particular, as continuing to use a thermal decontamination process its strengths in removing bodily fluids, viruses and pathogens as well as soiling were retained. The new process is based on NHS Guidelines for hospitals for cleaning foul linen and, whilst it uses a higher temperature wash cycle than the ozone process, to assist in cleaning heavily soiled items, it remains the most reliable and effective method for obtaining best overall results.

One of the most significant user benefits to come from the change is the marked improvement in removing hydrocarbons at lower temperatures. This is frequently evident in lighter coloured outer fabrics, such as PBI Gold, which is widely used in Ergotech, Ergotech Action and XFlex designs as well as being the fabric for our ICP range. New wash cycles at 40oC and 60oC now achieve more effective cleaning of asbestos contamination and bodily fluids respectively. Resulting energy savings on typical wash cycles are also more sustainable.

Commenting on the improvements, Edward Shepherd, Bristol’s Operations Services Manager, said: ‘Our managed services provision has become a key component of our integrated approach to effective lifetime garment management. Since its introduction over 10 years ago it has become the norm for FRS to rely on us, as PPE supplier, to ensure that their garments remain fully fit for purpose throughout their service lives. This means being as clean as possible, physically able to meet the same levels of protection as afforded by the kit when new and extending operational life to yield best value-for-money for the user. Changing our managed care operations in the way we have brings substantial benefits across the board.’

  • Operation Florian

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