Electrolux Professional and Decontex set an innovative and new decontamination process based on a Liquid CO2 washer that cleans and decontaminates firefighters’ uniforms. It is the only existing environmental friendly technology able to complete the entire cycle without damaging neither the gear nor the environment.
Firefighters run a sharply increased risk of cancer because they are exposed to toxic substances more frequently than anyone is. Despite it is a well-known topic, firefighters are still as vulnerable to toxic substances as they were in the past due to an improper gear’s decontamination. Every day they continue to take risks, often with fatal consequences.
Decontex NV together with Electrolux Professional, wanted to change the situation and created a system to clean and decontaminate properly fire service uniforms after the interventions, significantly reducing the exposure to toxic particles.
Eugenio Filoni, segment manager at Electrolux Professional, explains “When we started to work on this project, Electrolux Professional purpose was to develop a solution to make the firefighters’ work-life safer and healthier. Six years ago, following the Healthy Firefighters program in Sweden, Electrolux Professional was the first company to introduce the Barrier concept. The idea was to help the firefighters to work in a better way and reduce the risk of cancer in their lives. In the last years we achieved great results but this was not enough. So we’ve started to work with Decontex to develop a new solution based on the Liquid CO2 machine.”
In the first phase of the Decontex process, the contaminated uniforms are delivered by the firefighters to an authorized transport centre. Then, the transport centre is in charge of delivering the uniforms to the decontamination centre. Here, the uniforms are linked to a radio frequency identification (RFID) code, which track the decontamination cycle thanks to a specialised software. All the possible information on the uniforms is saved in a complementary logbook.
At the end, the uniforms are cleaned and decontaminated with Electrolux Professional Liquid CO2 washers, which let CO2 to penetrate into the deepest internal membrane pores and fibres of the exposed textiles, removing the most harmful and toxic particles.
Tommy Verminck, CEO at Decontex NV, explains that “There is a clear difference between washing and decontamination. Washing is the cleaning of the textile part of the gear, and on top of that, on a regular basis, we recommend making a full decontamination. Decontamination is the cleaning of the membrane, which acts like a filter inside the gear. The Decontex decontamination process, based on Electrolux Liquid CO2 technology, is the only proven technology to reduce all toxic components in the fire gear to below the maximum required level.”