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Gear Dryers: A Force Multiplier for Small Fire Departments

According to the NFPA, half of all volunteer firefighters are responsible for jurisdictions with less than 2,500 residents. With such low populations, its no wonder why small, rural fire departments are left without much of a budget, and as a result, are often under equipped.

Just because a department is small, doesn't mean it needs to sacrifice the safety of their fire fighters.

It's now known that the NFPA recommends washing turnout gear after every exposure to a structure or vehicle fire. Carcinogens from the soot and smoke contaminate the gear, and make even touching it a hazard. Washing after each exposure can make it difficult for some departments to maintain a "ready" status while performing these duties. Larger cities often combat this by purchasing two sets of turnout gear per firefighter. This solves the problem, but does little to help the small departments who don't have the luxury of a second set of gear, nor the budget to pay for it. A great way to ensure your fire fighters get back on track as fast as possible without the expense of doubling your equipment inventory is here.

Available from your local Continental Girbau distributor is the Express Dry Gear dryer. Available in 4, 6, and 8 place units to accommodate any sized department, the Express Dry Gear Dryer has many advantages over the traditional cabinet style dryer.


Cabinet gear dryers need a dedicated spot to be installed, which can be difficult to find in an already packed firehouse. The Express Dry Gear Dryer sits atop 4 casters, allowing it to be easily moved from one place to another. Pull it out when you need to dry some gear, and then put it back wherever it is convenient when you are done.


Cabinet style gear dryers come with two options for heat, natural gas, and electric. This means that your cabinet will either have to have access to a natural gas line, or else a 220v circuit. While the Express Dry Gear Dryer comes in a heated model that uses a 220v circuit, the standard non heated model runs off of a single 110v plug.


There are no venting requirements for the Express Dry Gear Dryer. Moisture from the gear is spread out into the atmosphere. A gear drying cabinet, on the other hand, must have a vent as there is no other way for the moisture to leave the cabinet. This also requires a cabinet be installed near an exterior wall to simplify the venting needed.

Air Movement

The Express Dry Gear Dryer pumps 800Cfm through its manifold and out into the gear to be dried. This allows the Express Dryer to dry gear faster than a cabinet dryer, which often times moves half the amount of air or less than the Express Dryer.

Method of Drying

Gear cabinets use heat, and a small blower to circulate warm air around the gear that is hanging inside. While effective, this generally takes up to 3 hours or more to dry a full cabinet. The Express Dry Gear Dryer pushes air through the manifold, and into the "stick men" which are "dressed" with your gear. This allows your gear to dry from the inside out. Strategically placed holes on the stick man are aimed at problem areas, such as seams and under arms, ensuring your gear is completely dry. Most sets of gear are dry within 1 hour.

If your department has a water rescue team, than the "Special Ops" gear dryer may be of use. Instead of hanging stick men from the top, they are inserted into a manifold at the bottom of the machine, where you then dress them with your gear. When its time to dry off wet suits or other non-permeable clothing, flip the stick man upside down, reinsert into the manifold, and now the water can drain much faster, without pooling up in the feet.

Every Express Dry Gear Dryer comes with at least 12 auxiliary ports, allowing you to dry gloves, hoods, socks, or anything else you can attach. The standard gear dryers come with 4, 6, or 8 helmet dryers affixed to the top of the manifold. If your department is constantly dealing with wet boots, Continental Girbau offers both 4 and 7 pair "boot trees", allowing boots to be dried quickly and efficiently.

Now that we know the differences between the types of gear dryers, lets take a look at the tally:

Its pretty clear which one is the winner. If an Express Dry Gear Dryer is something that could help your department stay on track, contact Commercial Laundry Sales & Service to get you and your crew set up for success!

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