Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums, the Silver Bullet to Firing Range Housekeeping

While firing ranges expose users and employees to certain obvious hazards, people often forget about the risk of lead exposure. According to the Colorado Occupational Health Surveillance Program, range workers are commonly exposed to airborne lead when using ammunition with primers containing lead styphnate or lead bullets. Shooters or anyone in the firing range can be exposed to lead fumes from the “gun smoke” or the lead dust that is released into the air when the gun is fired. Workers can also be exposed to airborne lead dust when cleaning the range and guns or emptying bullet trays. An added danger exists if a worker or firearm enthusiast carries home remnants of lead dust to a home with small children.

There are many ways that firing ranges can reduce lead exposure. Regulatory agencies recommend a daily cleaning program to safely collect hazardous lead dust, but caution against the use of sweeping or shoveling bullet debris, since they may only disperse dust back into the air. Instead, the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that ranges use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum to safely remove and retain lead particles.

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums, an industrial vacuum manufacturer headquartered in Morgantown, PA, has provided housekeeping solutions to indoor firing ranges for many years. While federal agencies continue to raise awareness about firing range safety, Nilfisk continues to see an increase in demand for HEPA filtered industrial vacuum cleaners to pick up lead dust and other hazardous debris.

Thorough cleaning is needed
Heritage Guild, a full-service archery and firearm company, opened their first state-of-the-art indoor firing range in Easton, PA. The new facility features a 50-foot, 15 lane, range with the latest backstops and environmental controls to maximize the experience and enjoyment of the sport for all firearms enthusiasts. Leading the Easton team is manager, Matt Hitchcock, who before the range’s grand opening anticipated that 50 to 100 shooters a day would utilize the space.

With 15 years of retail experience in the industry, Hitchcock is very familiar with the potential health hazards associated with lead dust in indoor ranges, and reminds us that lead inhalation is not the only concern when cleaning.

“It is important to be thorough when cleaning to avoid small flash fires that can occur from the accumulation of gun powder and other debris” says Hitchcock. “The safety of our customers and employees is always our first priority.”

The team at Heritage Guild wanted an industrial vacuum cleaner that would fit their new facility and provide the level of cleaning they wanted. Hitchcock heard about Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums during his tenure at another sporting goods shop, where they used a Nilfisk for their indoor range cleaning. He decided to do some comparative shopping through the internet but the results came up with machines that were too large, bulky, and/or expensive. He ultimately called Nilfisk.

Hitchcock was soon introduced to Kim Kanis, Nilfisk’s local District Manager for Pennsylvania. Hitchcock described Kanis as an honest and knowledgeable salesman who is “quick and accurate with product information.” After a visit to the Easton facility to assess their facility and cleaning needs, Kanis recommended a HEPA vacuum cleaner that fit their vacuum requirements perfectly.

Easy, fast and flexible
The firing range vacuum package that Kanis tailored for the Heritage Guild facility has already made cleaning easier and faster. With a variety of attachable accessories, the team at Heritage Guild uses the vacuum cleaner 3 to 4 times a week to clean the range floor, lanes, and ports.

The inlet of the machine can be accessorized with a fixed floor nozzle, equipped with rubber blades that enable employees to push the vacuum up and down the lanes to easily pick up unburned gun powder that falls to the ground after each fired shot. To clean around the ports, an aluminum wand coupled with a bristle wall nozzle is fastened to the end of the hose and run lightly around the corners. In addition, employees can attach a metal crevice nozzle to collect debris in uneven surfaces within the range.

Compact and portable, the vacuum can be easily stored in a cleaning closet, away from customers and rolled out to the range floor during after-hours for facility maintenance.

“While other industrial vacuums can be heavy and clunky, you can steer the Nilfisk with one hand. It is a super light vacuum with good suction,” Hitchcock pointed out.

To prevent premature clogging from bullet debris and maintain suction and performance, the Nilfisk firing range vacuum is equipped with a multi-stage, graduated filtration system which uses a series of progressively finer filters that capture increasingly smaller particles as they move through the vacuum. Perhaps most importantly, the multi-stage system prevents the excessive wear and tear of the HEPA, an exhaust filter which ensures that even the tiniest lead particles are captured and retained within the machine, and not dispersed back into the air.

Hitchcock was astounded by the improvement in air quality after each time they cleaned.

“With other vacuums, you could actually taste the lead in the air after using them, but not with the Nilfisk.”

Customer’s Preferred Choice
Hitchcock firmly believes that he has responsibility for each of the shooters that comes through the door, whether they are a local law enforcement officer training in the use of firearms or a shooting enthusiast there for leisure.

He is glad that they have equipped their facility with the best environmental controls, including proper housekeeping to protect all their customers and employees.

“We do our work ahead of time to keep the range safe and clean because we want everyone to have a good experience and visit us again.”

Just like Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums, Matt understands the importance of becoming the customer’s preferred choice!

About Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Division

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums, a division of Nilfisk, Inc., is one of the largest providers of cleaning equipment in North America. From its Morgantown, Pennsylvania, headquarters, Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums supports a complete line of industrial vacuums with exceptionally efficient, multi-stage filtration systems and user-friendly features. Nilfisk vacuums play a critical role in thousands of manufacturing facilities and industrial processes across North America. Supported by a direct sales force and an extensive dealer network, Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums helps customers solve a variety of cleaning challenges, including combustible dust, general maintenance, overhead cleaning, abatement, process integration, laboratory/cleanroom control, and more.

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