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COVID-19 disinfection of structural firefighting PPE

This page is intended to serve as basic guidance for managing the disinfection of structural firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) (bunker gear/turnouts) potentially exposed to COVID-19.

As of April 20, 2020, there is no scientific study specific to the disinfection of structural firefighting PPE in response to COVID-19 that our team is aware of.

This information is intended to supplement the structural firefighting PPE manufacturer's instructions for use and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Manufacturer guidance and recommended practices should be routinely reviewed. Information may change as more research is completed on COVID-19.

Material definitions

Soft
Pants, coat, liners, hood, gloves, etc.
Hard
Boots, helmet, face piece, etc.

Recommendations

Soft

Follow specific guidance from the manufacturer and NFPA 1851. As of April 6, 2020, there is no alternative or other specific guidance on the decontamination of structural firefighting PPE.

Generally, the cleaning and disinfection process involves the same steps as would be followed for all body-fluid contamination. To minimize contamination of other pieces of PPE, wash the outer layers separately from the liners:

The care and maintenance material provided with the protective garment/item must be consulted for proper procedures.

Hard

Follow specific guidance from the manufacturer and NFPA 1851. As of April 6, 2020, there is no alternative or other specific guidance on the decontamination of structural firefighting PPE.

Generally, the cleaning and disinfection process involves the same steps as would be followed for all body-fluid contamination:

Refer to specific face piece disinfection procedures from your manufacturer.

Structural firefighting PPE disinfection resources

The resources listed below are not exhaustive, nor an endorsement of the manufacturer, product or to the efficacy of any process.

Agencies and associations

Manufacturers (not an exhaustive list)

Download this guidance

This guidance was developed by the Federal Healthcare Resilience Task Force (HRTF). The HRTF is leading the development of a comprehensive strategy for the U.S. healthcare system to facilitate resiliency and responsiveness to the threats posed by COVID-19. The Task Force's EMS/Pre-Hospital Team is comprised of public and private-sector EMS and 911 experts from a wide variety of agencies and focuses on responding to the needs of the pre-hospital community. This team is composed of subject matter experts from NHTSA OEMS, CDC, FEMA, USFA, U.S. Army, USCG and non-federal partners representing stakeholder groups and areas of expertise. Through collaboration with experts in related fields, the team develops practical resources for field providers, supervisors, administrators, medical directors and associations to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Primary Point of Contact: NHTSA Office of EMS, nhtsa.ems@dot.gov, 202-366-5440