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Distributor Blog | The Difference Between Hard- & Soft-Mount Washers


Scott Vlahos is president of Advantage Equipment Inc., a full-service laundry solutions provider serving Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Over the course 21+ years, Advantage Equipment has sold and installed turnout gear washers and dryers at more than 600 fire departments. In this Q & A, Vlahos explains the difference between soft- and hard-mount washers and which is preferable in a fire department.


Q: What is the difference between a soft-mount and hard-mount washer?

A: There are several differences between the two. These differences impact installation and installation costs, programmability, the ability to run partial loads, longevity and utility savings over time. Let’s take a look at each of these.

When it comes to installation, hard-mount washers are more difficult and costly to install as they must be bolted to reinforced concrete. Soft-mount washers, by comparison, are not bolted down and can be placed in unconventional locations, like upper floors or even on thermal floors in the truck bay. This also makes them easy to relocate in the future, if needed.

Soft-mount washers offer a built-in suspension that removes 99 percent of vibrations and keeps the machine in balance. This means soft-mount washers can run less than a full load. Using hard-mount washers, you can’t. Hard-mount washers need to always run full loads in order to keep the machine in balance. Most fire departments run partial loads – sometimes just one set of bunker gear – making the soft-mount washer a necessity.

Generally, a soft-mount washer features better programmability than a hard-mount washer, which allows for improved customization over the wash process. Thus, soft-mount washers can be programmed to exactly meet NFPA 1851 guidelines for washing fire protective apparel/gear.

Operational Costs
Soft-mount washers by design have a tighter tolerance between the inner and outer drum, which reduces water and chemical usage. They can also sustain much higher extract speeds when compared to hard-mount washers. Although high extract is not used to launder turnout gear (soft-mount washers are programmed for a lower extract speed) that high extract can be utilized for washing other fire department items, including towels. The higher extract removes more moisture from the load and shortens drying time. This saves energy and time.

In general, a soft-mount washer costs more to purchase than a hard mount, but in the long run lasts longer and can reduce utility costs. If cost is a concern, consider applying for funding from the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program (AFG) ( Oftentimes, AFG funds new fire department laundry equipment. Contact Girbau North America if you are looking for grant writing assistance.

Q: If a fire department is interested in new laundry equipment, where should they start?

A: Contact a qualified Girbau North America (GNA) distributor. GNA distributors sell and service Continental Girbau washers and dryers that are ideal for fire departments. They will provide recommendations, a quote, installation, training and service after the sale. To find a distributor in your area visit our distributor locator.


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