At the Division of Public Safety (DPS) commitment to safety is not only the focus of service calls, but is embedded in all they do. This philosophy is bolstered by their innovative thinking and resourcefulness. The latest example is the in-house construction of a state-of-the art turnout gear dryer for its firefighters.
After last year’s significant $11,000 investment in a turnout gear washer, Director Paul Lauria and Fire Chief Rick Beltinck began researching turnout gear dryers. They became aware that self-constructed dryers made out of PVC pipes were much more economical and rivaled their commercial counterparts which cost upwards of $10,000 – $15,000.
Lauria and Beltinck shared a picture of a completed PVC dryer with the department’s fire sergeants. Fire Sergeant Rich Clark refined the design and distributed it to all Mt. Pleasant Fire Department (MPFD) shifts for suggestions. All full-time firefighters worked on the construction of the dryer with Shift 3 (Fire Sergeant Rich Clark, Equipment Operator Roger Fuller, Equipment Operator Bernie Schafer) taking the lead. After one month the dryer was completed.
The MPFD dryer possesses a capacity to dry 10-11 sets of gear at a time, whereas commercial dryers generally can handle only four sets at once. The total cost of the MPFD dryer was only $2,500 which included the PVC pipe, fittings and blower which is significantly lower than the $10,000 – $15,000 cost of a commercial dryer. Since the average cost of turnout gear is $3,000 per set, this limits the number of spare sets of turnout gear available. Therefore, it is imperative gear is quickly dried and ready for the next call.
Turnout gear collects chemicals/hazardous materials which can cause a higher rate of cancer if not cleaned properly. These hazardous materials are byproducts of combustion from a fire. The full-time firefighters were dedicated and pleased to be able to build this gear dryer for their Paid-On-Call Firefighters as it is these first responders who enter structure fires.