Reliable decontamination of SCBA
MEIKO helps FTZ Oldenburg replace manual pre-cleaning with machines
The fire service technical centre (Feuerwehrtechnische Zentrale, or FTZ) in the German municipality of Ganderkesee provides technical support for 31 voluntary fire services in the Oldenburg district. Two technicians at the FTZ are responsible for the decontamination of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as SCBA sets, including some 3,000 BA masks and over 1,000 regulators.
When plans for the RPE workshop were first drawn up 12 years ago, it was difficult for the planners to assess how issues of operational hygiene might evolve in the future. At that time, there was nothing in the pertinent standards to suggest that the building may eventually need to be larger. As space became tight in recent years, the SCBA technicians were obliged to spend much of their time in the yard decontaminating dirty PPE – whatever the weather.
Shipping container in the yard for pre-cleaning
That question was how to quickly introduce a standard for the existing building that would offer employees optimal protection. The solution was to shift the pre-cleaning task to a container. This prevented any contamination from entering the RPE workshop and meant that the employees no longer had to clean PPE outside in the cold and rain.
Separating equipment into a dirty zone and a clean zone is essential, and the container provides space to do this using a TopClean D from MEIKO, which replaces manual cleaning with a machine-based process.
MEIKO doesn't require SCBA sets to be disassembled before they are washed in the TopClean D – this puts them a step ahead of other manufacturers of disinfection technology. Using an ingenious SCBA-compatible rack system that keeps the equipment pressurised during cleaning, the machine washes off fire residues and other hazardous substances within three to twelve minutes – significantly faster than manual cleaning.
A partnership based on trust
Frank Hattendorf, head of the RPE workshop at FTZ Oldenburg, first contacted MEIKO after experiencing problems with his PPE cleaning chemicals, which the supplier of the chemicals was unable to help with. "It was only thanks to a major effort from MEIKO that we finally came up with a solution," says Hattendorf.
Soon after, he paid a visit to the RPE workshop at the Offenburg fire department, which had been designed and kitted out by MEIKO. The decontamination team introduced Hattendorf and his colleagues to MEIKO's pre-cleaning technology and described how their set-up worked. "We were really impressed by the care and attention paid to every technical detail. For example, the small parts racks can be used in all MEIKO machines, which shows how they value compatibility. And the fact that all MEIKO machines work according to the same principle makes them simple to operate, even for people who don't use them very often." He decided on the spot that MEIKO was the perfect partner to help him plan and install an interim solution back at FTZ Oldenburg.
Straight into action from day one
The TopClean D equipment washer went into action the very first day it arrived at FTZ Oldenburg. "We were able to decontaminate 30 SCBA sets in our RPE workshop on that first day!" says Hattendorf. Drying and testing make up the lion's share of the PPE decontamination process, but it is still possible to save huge amounts of time by carrying out pre-cleaning with a machine instead of by hand. But the biggest benefit comes from the self-contained nature of the machine-cleaning process, which provides far greater protection against the hazardous aerosols emitted by contaminated PPE and cleaning chemicals.
Top-notch technology and service offer major benefits
"MEIKO has carefully calculated the best way to fit the various pieces of SCBA gear into the machine. The racks can be combined, dismantled and used in all sorts of different ways," says Frank Hattendorf enthusiastically. This flexible configuration greatly facilitates the day-to-day running of the respiratory protective equipment workshop. "We were also impressed by the workmanship of the TopClean D, the clever and intuitive way it works, and the highly professional and reliable customer service. Those were key reasons behind our decision to buy this system."
Equipped to tackle today's challenges – ready for whatever the future holds
Ask Hattendorf which of the machines he would give up if he had to choose, and he barely even pauses for breath: "I can tell you straight away that I wouldn't want to lose any of them!" Jens Jacobsen, MEIKO sales manager for personal protective equipment, nods in agreement. "This interim solution is just the first step toward a tailor-made configuration. As soon as approval comes through to extend the RPE workshop, we will be happy to support the FTZ with all our expertise and technology and partner with them on the planning process."
FTZ Oldenburg in figures
- 2 technicians for SCBA/respiratory equipment
- 5,500 fire hoses
- 2,850 BA masks
- 1,110 regulators
- 1,700 compressed air bottles (steel and CFRP)
- 470 SCBA sets
We were really impressed by the care and attention paid to every technical detail. For example, the small parts racks can be used in all MEIKO machines, which shows how they value compatibility. And the fact that all MEIKO machines work according to the same principle makes them simple to operate, even for people who don't use them very often.