Outsourced green cleaning services can be a vital partnership for busy fire departments and stations.
Green Cleaning Services for Fire Departments
Due to the nature of their interactions with both wounded civilians and hospital staff, firefighters, and EMT personnel are at an increased risk of exposure to several infectious diseases and bacteria, such as MRSA.
Additionally, typical fire station facilities, such as kitchens, business offices, sleeping quarters, and classrooms can present several health and safety hazards if not properly cleaned and disinfected.
As funding for outsourced commercial cleaning services can be hard to come by, departments will often take steps to clean the firehouse on their own, which is a waste of valuable learning time, and potentially problematic, depending on the season, and how busy the department is.
Unfortunately, that approach can lead to inadequately cleaned facilities and the use of toxic chemicals that ultimately lead to a poorly performing department.
The most cost-effective solution is to partner with an experienced cleaning services vendor with the tools and products necessary to provide a superior level of cleanliness without the use of harmful chemicals that can aggravate and inflame respiratory systems, negatively impact physical and mental performance, and lead to long-term health issues.
MRSA Exposure and Fire Fighters
Firefighters and paramedics are at an increased risk of exposure to MRSA.
According to a study conducted by Professor Marilyn Roberts, of the University of Washington;
Firefighters and paramedics are at the crossroads between the public and hospital environments.
Their job includes administering first-response care to patients, many of whom are more likely to be MRSA carriers or have MRSA infections than the general population.
This may put fire personnel at increased risk for MRSA infections.
During the study, Professor Roberts' team made a startling discovery;
[sic]...more than 20 percent of the fire personnel who volunteered to be tested had MRSA in their nose.
Germs and Fire Station Facilities
Germs and infectious bacteria, specifically MRSA, have been identified on high-contact surfaces throughout the fire station, as well as the trucks and equipment.
Communal living and shared facilities, combined with varying levels of exposure to infectious disease and bacteria from medical facilities, patients, and personnel, significantly increase the likelihood of germ transference between contaminated surfaces, infected individuals, and the firefighters, as well as their equipment.
MRSA is commonly found in fire stations on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as:
- Restroom counters and faucet handles.
- Gym equipment.
- Door handles.
- Medical bag handles.
- Computer and electronic equipment, including televisions, TV remotes, and armchair rests.
- Truck doors, handles, steering wheels, and equipment, as well as turnout gear.
Cleaning Chemicals and Respiratory Health
Firefighters are at a naturally heightened risk for respiratory health problems.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters;
In the line of duty, fire fighters may experience occupational exposure to gases, chemicals, particulate, and other substances with potentially damaging short and long term effects on the respiratory system.
Previous studies performed during knock-down and overhaul phases show firefighters may incur exposure to toxicants and respiratory tract irritants including: sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, phosgene, nitrogen oxides, aldehydes, and particulate.
The combustion of building materials generates countless combustion products, with numerous new commercial compounds introduced annually.
Unfortunately, many of the chemicals commonly found in commercial cleaning products can trigger or severely aggravate respiratory problems through the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including:
- Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products.
- Air fresheners.
- Chlorine bleach.
- Detergent and dishwashing liquid.
- Dry cleaning chemicals.
- Rug and upholstery cleaners.
- Furniture and floor polish, and;
- Oven cleaners.
Green Cleaning Tips
To ensure optimal safe working conditions, the three primary areas of focus should be:
- Disinfecting common living areas.
- Disinfecting equipment.
- Improving fire station indoor air and environmental quality.
Remember to clean first, removing all grease, liquid, and dirt, before sanitizing or disinfecting, or the process will be ineffective.
- Clean all high-contact surfaces daily with a Green Seal certified disinfectant, especially in the kitchen.
- Eliminate the use of toxic commercial cleaning products in favor of green alternatives to eliminate firefighter exposure to VOCs, indoors.
- Replace all cleaning towels, mops and brooms with microfiber alternatives.
- Clean all the gym equipment before and after use.
- Don't eat at your desk, especially around computer equipment.
- Institute a strong handwashing policy.
References & Resources
- Prevent MRSA
- MRSA Exposure and Firefighters
- Furnishing a Fire Station
- UA Keeps MRSA from Firefighting Communities
Fighting fires and saving lives is a dangerous job.
Returning to the fire station to relax and learn should not be equally hazardous.
The volume of carcinogenic compounds firefighters are exposed to on a regular basis is troubling.
Compounding that exposure through the use of toxic cleaning products and poor custodial practices in an attempt to cut costs is misguided, at best, and can lead to life-long health problems.
Green cleaning services and products are a cost-effective and viable alternative to in-house, self-service that can significantly improve the performance and health of the fire crew.
If you would like to learn more about the advantages of outsourced commercial cleaning services for your fire department or station, contact us today for a free quote!
In Bakersfield CA, Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 395-3009
In Fresno CA, call (559) 473-1790