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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page was created in response to inquiries related to the handling and treatment of PPE that has been or is thought to have been exposed to COVID-19.  Included are some general guidelines to consider regarding PPE cleaning, sanitization and disinfection, as well as an overview on what LION TotalCare® is doing in its facilities to mitigate risk.  Because this is a new virus, we are consuming information being published by organizations such as the CDC and the WHO and executing protocols to keep our employees and first responders safe. LION's full response.


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I was exposed to someone with COVID-19- is it on my gear, SCBA, gloves, etc? What do I do now?

One of the most important things you can do immediately following if you believe you’ve been exposed is to properly doff your PPE by following your department's SOP's or by following the sequence recommended by the manufacturer, CDC or WHO.   



Follow the enclosed LION TotalCare PPE Exposure Response checklist in this supplement for proper care of your turnout gear. 

Follow proper hygiene steps (handwashing, showering, etc).  Monitor yourself for symptoms and get tested if possible.  


We have heard estimates of the lifespan of the virus on several different surface types. Do we know what the average lifespan of the virus is on turnout gear fabric like Nomex and how long COVID-19 can stay on my gear?

Currently, no studies have been done regarding how long the COVID-19 virus lives on textiles like Nomex, etc. 

Can I use bleach to clean my turnout gear?

Bleach is never recommended for use on turnout gear as it degrades the materials significantly, making it far less effective at keeping you safe. 

How do I clean my gear if I think I’ve possibly been around someone who was positive for COVID-19?

The safest method for disinfection or sanitization of exposed or potentially exposed PPE is to work with a verified ISP. Whenever possible, refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning and sanitizing/disinfecting instructions as well as the 2020 Edition of the NFPA 1851 Standard on Selection, Care & Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. 


A verified ISP will use a disinfection and sanitization process for suspected or known contaminants or other viruses and bacteria. In addition, LION TotalCare uses ozone in every extractor cleaning cycle to treat for biohazards. This cleaning agent is extremely effective, is non-toxic and chemical-free while providing 99.999% sanitization from germs, viruses and bacteria. This ozone process exceeds NFPA 1851 2020 edition’s requirement for sanitization without using high wash temperatures that over time can shorten the life of PPE.

In general, sanitization is most often applied to porous surface such as the fabrics and textiles associated with garments, helmets textile components, gloves, footwear, and hoods, whereas disinfection is applied to hard surfaces such as helmet she

What’s the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, & disinfecting?

There are differences in sanitization versus disinfection.  Sanitization reduces the number of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses) to a safe level, generally defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as 99.9%.  Sanitization is for use on hard surfaces.  Disinfection kills or inactivates all microorganisms as indicated on the specific label or the product (typically to 99.9999%) and is for soft goods. It is important that cleaning be performed along with either sanitization or disinfection as appropriate for the PPE item.  Always read and follow the product instructions, as many sanitizers and disinfectants take a period of time to work. 

A sanitizer, according to NFPA 1851 is defined as a type of antimicrobial agent that is used to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, microorganisms from the inanimate environment to levels considered safe as determined by public health codes
or regulations.

NFPA 1851 defines a disinfectant as a type of antimicrobial agent that destroys or irreversibly inactivates fungi and bacteria,
but not necessarily their spores, on inanimate surfaces and objects.

In general, sanitization is most often applied to porous surface such as the fabrics and textiles associated with garments, helmets textile components, gloves, footwear, and hoods, whereas disinfection is applied to hard surfaces such as helmet shells. 

Can I just wash my gear as usual in a washing machine if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 while I was wearing it?

This is not recommended, NFPA 1851 requires disinfecting or sanitizing to be conducted by a verified cleaning entity. Decontamination requires specific procedures for eliminating the health threats associated with contamination that are not common practice. Please reach out to a verified ISP for further information if using an extractor in house.

Are there specific sprays/disinfectants and techniques we can use on our medical EMS and turnouts that will effectively decon without degrading the material?  Laundering after each incident is not practical.

Currently, there are no sprays or process for Preliminary Exposure Reduction that have been proven to be effective.  The most effective method currently known is to use a soak tank.  Reference NFPA 1851 A. 

The EPA has a long list (List N) of disinfectants and sanitizers that also includes chlorine agents, which are NOT permitted by NFPA 1851.  What should the end user look for in a sanitizer to use when cleaning turnouts specifically?

Visit for a list of EPA-approved sanitizers that meet the cleaning, sanitization and disinfection requirements set forth by NFPA 1851, 2020 for use on structural firefighting ensembles.

Can UV be used to effectively decontaminate PPE? What are the implications for breakdown of the PPE due to UV exposure?

It is not recommended to use UV to decon PPE.  Many of the components used in PPE are sensitive to UV and therefore this method of decontamination should not be used. 

Can I soak my PPE in a solution of sanitizer and then perform an Advanced Clean?

Yes, however you must verify that the sanitizer is on the EPA list and proven to be effective against the specific contaminant.  You must also follow the dilution and dwell time for the product.  Reference NFPA 1851 A. for additional information 

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