Apparatus and Equipment Accessories - Expert Commentary

Smart Specifications: Differences Between British And European Fire Safety Standards Part 2
Smart Specifications: Differences Between British And European Fire Safety Standards Part 2

In my latest article for TheBigRedGuide.com, I gave a detailed explanation of the differences between British and European fire safety standards. To help shed some light on this complex world, our team of fire safety experts concisely defined the Euroclass and UK standards, and explained how they differ. This article will aim to go one step further and demonstrate what architects, specifiers, and other industry professionals should be looking for when they’re selecting materials and products for a project. While each build is unique, several key factors should always be considered by those responsible for the specification of materials. Keep reading for four factors to consider. Thermal barrier usefulness This is the most important point. It’s crucial that what is specified for the final project is identical to the configuration that was tested. If it’s not, delve deeper and search for comparative data between two or three possibilities. The Field of Application in the Classification Report may cover the configuration, but that should be based on test evidence. Glassfibre insulation is Euroclass A, but it melts in a fire, completely negating its thermal barrier usefulness It should be emphasized that Euroclass B isn’t inherently worse than A, nor is Euroclass A necessarily better – it depends on the application. Glassfibre insulation is Euroclass A, but it melts in a fire, completely negating its thermal barrier usefulness. Equally, combustible material such as wood cannot attain A, as it will eventually burn due to its chemical make-up. This doesn’t make it any less attractive, or useful.  As a building material - if correctly specified and fire protected – it is an entirely appropriate selection. The correct rating for each build is dependent on several factors unique to each project. Active fire protection These include, but are not limited to: The actual application requirements. This involves considering important aspects including the height of the building, and what its intended purpose will be. For example, a residential property will be in use 24 hours a day including overnight, and this will create different safety requirements compared to buildings such as offices which are usually only in use during daylight hours. Fire contribution to a system. Assessing how a material contributes to the overall fire risk the proposed system carries, and what measures have been taken to protect the structure in the event of a fire. This includes both passive and active fire protection measures. Consideration of engineering implications of each available product. This requires a careful analysis of how each potential material choice differs. For example, one product may be heavier or much harder to install than another which will impact how fit-for-purpose it really is for the project in question. How products react when they’re exposed to external weather conditions should always be carefully assessed. Some materials degrade as a direct result of exposure to the elements. Over time this will negatively impact the building, and in some cases make it far less safe and secure as the building ages. Better-Informed decision Go beyond product classification reports and hunt for test reports on proposed systems Be wary of claims about individual products. These can become null and void when they are incorporated into a larger system, as the overall fire rating will almost certainly change. This could result in the whole being significantly less than the sum of its parts, completely jeopardizing the safety of the end-users or occupants. Before you commit to a product, make sure you’re well versed in what you’re working with. Go beyond product classification reports and hunt for test reports on proposed systems. This will help you make a conclusive, better-informed decision. However, be warned, this information is notoriously hard to come by, so persistence is key. Make sure only to specify products that have been accredited by a third-party lab. Fire protection treatment Although it’s still legal for companies to self-certify materials, the practice allows for sub-standard products to become readily available on the market. Along with a third-party accredited test certificate, request CE documentation to ensure the product in question is still CE rated after its fire protection treatment. Some treatments will invalidate the CE mark on the non-treated product. The practice allows for sub-standard products to become readily available on the market There’s no denying that current safety standards are wildly complex and, even for the most experienced specifier, can take time to get your head around. Under time pressure, you need peace of mind, so it would be worth involving certified fire safety consultants from the outset. They will ensure you’re specifying certified, fit-for-purpose materials, prioritizing the build’s safety and offering clarity. Robust fire safety A collective concerted effort to thoroughly understand and select products that are tried and tested to create robust builds can only ever be a positive step. Combine this with the Government’s new building safety bill due to come into effect in August (2021), and the fact that many more companies are investing heavily into R&D to produce new materials with safety at the forefront, means the future is looking bright for construction, with robust fire safety baked into a building’s DNA as standard. Developing more state-of-the-art technology and facilities, and sourcing highly-skilled, knowledgeable professionals to ensure all bases have been fully covered, will achieve better fire-rated products and systems across the board.  This is key to achieving the outcome we are all chasing - safer material choices that work as a system and deliver excellent fire protection.

Protecting The Front Line with Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
Protecting The Front Line with Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

The product lifecycle of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is approximately ten years, during which time technology inevitably advances considerably in terms of digitization and ergonomics. Increasingly pertinent in the last decade, and especially since the Pandemic, has also been how kit can be designed for ease of cleaning to ensure firefighters are protected from harmful carcinogens as well as bacterial and viral infections. When we surveyed UK firefighters as part of our ‘Health for the Firefighter campaign’ to understand their concerns about exposure to carcinogens and COVID-19, we learned the vast majority (84%) admitted they were concerned about the risk of cancer, while more than two thirds (68%) fear the impact COVID-19 might have on their long-term health. Unequivocal statistics that warranted action in our technology design. Proven support infrastructure The SCBA product lifecycle allows time for medical and safety technology manufacturers, such as Dräger, to take advantage of technological developments, and thoroughly test and future proof them. It also enables us to utilize our direct relationships with the UK fire services, not only to accommodate day-to-day feedback, but also to learn from our support of major incidents such as Grenfell and the Salisbury poisonings. The SCBA product lifecycle allows time for medical and safety technology manufacturers Following Grenfell, for example, we saw the critical importance of reducing the weight and size of kit to allow for greater ease of movement, as well as how critical it is to have the equipment underpinned by a resilient and proven support infrastructure. AirBoss, Dräger’s latest SCBA offering represents a digital progression, where telemetry and connectivity provide the information, and enable the integration and communication required to further firefighter health and wellbeing. This decade’s launch is no longer a product, but a connected solution. Providing vital information Digitalization is critical. Dräger offers the only operationally-proven telemetry solution, providing vital information which is automatically communicated between the wearer of the BA set and the Entry Control Point – without the need for either team to stop what they are doing to send communications. These signals include manual and automatic distress signals, team withdrawal signals, cylinder pressure, time to whistle and time of whistle. This system also provides comprehensive data regarding the firefighters’ condition in relation to their SCBA, proving invaluable to those responsible for monitoring and directing BA crews. A new feature, unique to Dräger’s AirBoss, are ‘Buddylights’ fitted to the backplate, which use digital data from the set to provide immediate and highly-visible signaling to firefighters of their team’s cylinder pressures and physical condition. AirBoss, Dräger’s latest SCBA offering represents a digital progression Providing comprehensive data The optional Dräger Web client enables workshop, management and command staff to utilize the data created on scene wherever they are, and at any time. Reporting can also be customized for multiple purposes from user or device history to synchronized overviews of complete incidents. The ability to create incident reports on evidential and tactical levels provides comprehensive and valuable post-incident analysis tools for debrief and training purposes, or in case of any investigation or inquiry. For future developments, Dräger is working with partners in the UK looking at solutions for location and tracking of firefighters and providing comprehensive data regarding the firefighter’s condition at an incident. The latter includes information such as body core temperature, heart rate and other vital statistics to allow external teams to monitor the early signs of heat stress and other physiological strains. Reducing physical stress Another critical focus is ergonomics. Improved wearer comfort has been achieved through working with medical experts in this field and shifting the center of gravity relationship between the human body and the set, creating a ventilated space by the SCBA backplate. AirBoss’ new Type 4 Nano cylinder provides a continued reduction in cylinder weight AirBoss’ new Type 4 Nano cylinder provides a continued reduction in cylinder weight, which can also reduce full life costs to the service, as the Nano has an unlimited life. These improvements reduce physical stress on the firefighter which in turn reduces the risk of strain-related injuries and fatigue when wearing the set operationally as well as extending the working duration due to reduced physical exertion. With AirBoss, the weight is carried by the legs and pelvis rather than the back. Improving personal comfort This not only improves personal comfort, but also enhances mobility within confined spaces and while descending ladders and stairwells. In an industry where a split second can be the difference between life and death, these advancements are crucial. On a practical level, the Dräger AirBoss has also been designed to be ‘snag-proof’, ensuring that all attachments are neatly connected or integrated to mitigate any risk of snagging or entanglement. Alterations have been made to maximize cleaning practices, including the introduction of smoother, non-absorbent, water-repellent surfaces to make equipment easier to wipe down and decontaminate. Numerous attachment points have also been included so kit can easily be dismantled for optimum cleaning – both mechanically and by hand. To this point, some fire services are moving towards mechanical washing systems, which provide complete consistency in washing temperatures, concentration of detergent, speed and temperature of drying. Vehicle charging systems The Dräger AirBoss solution is centered around four pillars: usability; safety; serviceability and connectivity Recognizing the financial pressures which the fire services are under, the AirBoss system is designed to enable fire services to maximize the significant investment already made into their SCBA and telemetry. With a modular design, AirBoss is backward compatible with existing Dräger PSS SCBA and Telemetry, enabling elements of the existing set to be upgraded over a period of years. This reduces the requirement to purchase a full suite of new equipment including telemetry, pneumatics, electronics, integrated communications, cylinders and vehicle charging systems. Overall, the Dräger AirBoss solution is centered around four pillars: usability; safety; serviceability and connectivity. These pillars, which support utilizing digitalization, improved ergonomics and ease of cleaning, are how we intend to protect our firefighters’ health and wellbeing, both today and as our future-proofed technology advances to meet the needs of tomorrow.

Securing The Next Generation Of 911
Securing The Next Generation Of 911

While conducting research for my 2021 Wisconsin Public Safety Commission (WIPSCOM) conference presentation, it became immediately clear that securing the nation’s public safety answering points (PSAPs) is no longer just an IT challenge. Shifting from an analog to digital operating environment — the next generation of 911 — will require strategic investments into three key areas: people, processes and technology. As call center technology evolves nationwide, the need for greater cybersecurity in the public safety space has never been more important. Internet connected systems Traditionally, PSAPs received calls over analog telephone networks consisting of copper wire transmission lines and dated cellular networks spanning a smaller area in close proximity to call centers. With the introduction of next generation 911 and the accompanying digital telephone networking services, the exposure of call center networks to would-be attackers has exponentially increased, allowing potential access from anywhere due to internet connected systems. A good analogy is thinking of the points of entry into your home. The legacy method allowed two entries into the house — the front and back door. With the introduction of digital networks, there are now more doorways into the home or call center, signifying a greater need for security and employee awareness of threats. Many of these recent attacks target people using a technique called social engineering First responder organizations Since 2019, there have been approximately 300 cyberattacks impacting local government agencies, including police stations, emergency dispatch call centers and first responder organizations. 125 of these attacks specifically focused on public safety agencies such as firefighting or EMT stations, with attacks reported in all 50 states. More recent examples show that cyberattacks focusing on our first responders are increasing at an alarming rate. Many of these recent attacks target people using a technique called social engineering. This is when attackers attempt to trick victims through telephone calls and/or emails to assist the attacker in introducing viruses to the network, provide sensitive data or share usernames and passwords to achieve their criminal motives. Cyber criminals' primary objective is to use social engineering techniques to achieve a much more serious attack: ransomware. Critical computer systems Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that prevents access to sensitive files Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that prevents access to sensitive files, data and critical computer systems using encryption that only the attacker can unlock. Victims must pay a random sum of money, usually in an untraceable cryptocurrency, to the attacker who promises to decrypt data once they receive the funds. A look at attacker motivations can help us all understand — and mitigate — the threat to our first responders. Here are three primary reasons why cybercriminals target public safety answering points: Monetary gain: Infecting a PSAP with ransomware can lead to significant payouts in order to restore first response services. Disruption of services: Shutting down critical services can put threat actors in the public eye while also playing a major role in multi-stage attacks. Cheap thrills: Attackers and, at times, even misguided amateurs can target critical services for notoriety or social standing. Mitigating cyber risk The human element, actions or inactions played a direct role in 85% of data breaches Regardless of the motivation, the outcome is generally the same: a disruption of first response services that are critical to protecting our communities and families. According to Verizon's 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, the human element -- or people’s decisions, actions or inactions -- played a direct role in 85% of data breaches. As cyber threats targeting PSAPs and first responder teams continue to grow in number and severity, addressing the threat through employee awareness and education is a good first step in mitigating cyber risk. Here are four steps any PSAP can take now to assess and mitigate cyber threats targeting their organization. Security awareness training Educate employees with security awareness training - Ongoing security training efforts should occur at a general level for all PSAP employees, followed by more targeted, role-based security training for key roles and departments such as call center managers, dispatchers or those with access to sensitive data. General security awareness training efforts should focus on broad but relevant security topics employees are likely to encounter, such as how to identify a phishing email. Security training programs should occur at least annually, and training content reviewed semi-annually Role-based security training efforts should go one step further and include topics like how management should respond to ransomware payment demands or how to verify the identity of external callers asking for sensitive information or urgent payments. Security training programs should occur at least annually, and training content reviewed semi-annually to ensure completeness, accuracy and relevance of training content related to your operating environment. Physical building access Verify and strengthen employee access controls - This includes physical building access and logical access to any information or computer systems your organization operates. Most organizations have several internal or external users such as vendors, cleaning companies and other organizations who come into contact with the offices or other physical locations, increasing the risk of theft or unauthorized access via impersonation or tailgating attacks. Ensure exterior locations are sufficiently secured via electronic badge access or a minimum of key access with code entry. First responders and public service agencies should train employees to visibly display employee badges and report infringements to management in the event an attacker infiltrates the building. Multi-Factor authentication External visitors should be required to announce their arrival in advance to the organization External visitors should be required to announce their arrival in advance to the organization, enter through designated areas, check-in with a receptionist or direct contact, log their entry, show identification and wear a clearly identifiable visitor badge. Access to computer systems that contain sensitive data such as employee records or connections to other state and federal agencies should be secured via multi-factor authentication. Multifactor authentication is a security term referring to authenticating a computer system using several factors, including something you know (e.g., username or password) , something you have (e.g., smartphone) or something you are (e.g., fingerprints or voice pattern). Using two or more factors when accessing a computer system is crucial to keeping the cybercriminals out! Federal threat intelligence Leverage free resources to mature your cybersecurity posture - First responders and public service organizations have many free cybersecurity resources at their disposal. This includes federal threat intelligence via security advisories, which outline vulnerable software or hardware products they use, and direct consultation services from cyber response teams local to the area, which are taxpayer funded. The US-CISA also provides regional consultation services to assist all local government agencies Every first responder and public service organization should consider becoming a member of a relevant Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) such as the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), as they provide free threat intelligence services and consultation resources to help boost cybersecurity. The US-Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (US-CISA) also provides regional consultation services to assist all local government agencies in maturing their cybersecurity posture. Public service organizations Hire external security firms to identify and correct weaknesses - To the extent allowed by budgets and personnel, first responders and public service organizations should hire external security or audit firms to assess the state of their cybersecurity practices and posture. These firms specialize in security best practices and assess security controls' adequacy across a wide array of organizations. It is often useful to bring these firms in for a fresh perspective on how the organization operates and its vulnerabilities. These engagements are typically performed annually and focus on core computer systems and business processes that involve sensitive data.

Latest Hammerhead Industries / Gear Keeper news

Gear Keeper’s Retractable Tethers Keep Radio Microphone Secure
Gear Keeper’s Retractable Tethers Keep Radio Microphone Secure

Many firefighters turn to the retractable Mic Keeper® from Hammerhead Industries After a string of firefighter injuries and deaths related to radio communication in the 2000s, the International Association of Fire Chiefs formed a special subcommittee to look into the issues. The result was a series of portable radio best practices that among other things recommended firefighters place radio microphones one to two inches from the mouth to avoid audio distortion problems when operating in environments with high levels of background noise. In fact, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program*, lack of effective communications is one of the leading causes of non-cardiac line of duty deaths among firefighters. Many firefighters are turning to the retractable Mic Keeper® from Hammerhead Industries to effectively secure their radio equipment to their lapels and be in compliance with the new IAFC directives. “By using a Mic Keeper firefighters not only ensure their radio will always be where they expect it, but it also can help a firefighter meet the IAFC recommendations for maintaining a proper speaking distance,” says John Salentine, Vice President and co-founder of Hammerhead Industries, which manufactures the full range of Gear Keeper products including the Mic Keeper. “The device has been used by firefighters for years for comfort and convenience. It keeps the mic close to the body which prevents it from becoming entangled or damaged if they have to crawl on the ground or squeeze through tight spaces. “It can also help avoid major problems caused by an untethered mic dangling on the ground or a melted mic cord that was wrapped around the neck over the reflective material on turnout coats,” he added. IAFC says that firefighters should “ensure that the microphone is placed one to two inches from the mouth or SCBA voice port with the microphone positioned directly in front of the audio source.” A Mic Keeper device is designed to keep the mic securely in the proper position to operate the microphone appropriately when in use. When released after use, the mic will automatically retract to a secure position leaving the hands free to use other critical firefighting tools. Not a lot of attention is paid to how firefighters wear their portable radios or where they clip their microphones, according to Raul A. Angulo, a 27-year veteran of the Seattle Fire Department and captain of Ladder Company 6 who teaches classes on firefighter entrapment. Angulo, writing in Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Magazine**, said that he prefers the Mic Keeper to ensure he always knows where his mic is located and have easy access to it in an entrapment situation. “As for the mic, your lifeline to safety and survival, I have found no better accessory than the retractable tether system of Gear Keeper,” he wrote. “When I need it, I reach to my left shoulder and there it is, every time. I grab it, pull it to the voice amplifier of my SCBA, transmit my message and let it go. It smoothly retracts with a 12-ounce force.” The Mic Keeper is a rugged, retractable system designed to utilize and protect gear in severe environments with maximum break strength and durability. To easily attach a Mic Keeper or another Gear Keeper device developed for other popular firefighter tools like flashlights, seatbelt cutters and thermal imaging cameras to a firefighter’s turnout gear, the company developed the innovative Add-A-Clip® product line. These sturdy clips enable users to attach a Mic Keeper or Gear Keeper without the need for special sewn-on alterations. Add-A-Clips come with a variety of end types such as snap clips, bolt clips, split rings and glove holders. “The issue of properly securing a radio and microphone to a turnout coat has become a vital part of firefighter safety,” says Salentine. “There have been far too many tragic cases that have brought to light the importance of properly fastening a portable radio.”

Gear Keeper’s Tether Kits Keep Flashlights Stable, Secure, And Accessible
Gear Keeper’s Tether Kits Keep Flashlights Stable, Secure, And Accessible

The retractable tether kit’s stabilizer eliminates the swinging and dangling associated with fireman’s flashlights Laden with tools and running through blinding smoke during a dangerous fire, firefighters must react quickly when it comes to making a life-saving decision. There’s no time to waste fumbling for a flashlight. Gear Keeper’s Right Angle and Straight Flashlight self-retracting/stabilizing tether kits, designed especially for firefighters, safely secures the flashlights against loss while keeping them easily accessible and always pointed in the direction the firefighter is moving. The Gear Keeper attachment device combines the proper retractor force with a stabilizer strap that keeps the firefighters’ Right Angle and Straight flashlights strapped to their jackets and ready for use at a moment’s notice. Equally important, the retractable tether kit’s unique stabilizer eliminates the annoying swinging and dangling associated with fireman’s flashlights. The stabilizer strap, which minimizes the flashlight’s movement, always keeps the light from the Right Angle flashlight properly positioned and pointed forward. When the situation requires crawling, both flashlights can be easily removed from the stabilizer strap, enabling them to hang forward. Firefighters need only to grab their light, use it and let it go; it will always be right where they need it. “When involved in a fire rescue it goes without saying that it is extremely important to have your gear readily accessible,” says John Salentine, Vice President and co-founder of Hammerhead Industries, which manufactures Gear Keeper systems. “While all of our products at Gear Keeper are designed to meet very specific needs, everything centers back to our expertise in creating solutions for situations when holding onto the gear with your hands alone, is simply not an option.” There are two models available—the smaller 4-AA flashlights (12 oz., 20” extension, SS Cable with nylon coating) or the larger 3-C/ 4-C Rechargable Flashlights (24 oz, 32” extension, Spectra/nylon line). The Gear Keeper Flashlight Retractor Kit boasts 60-lb. break strength for the smaller straight version and 80-lb. break strength for the larger Right Angle version. Making it impervious to some of the harshest elements faced on the job, both flashlight kitsalso feature Gear Keeper ‘s patented automatic flushing system that clears debris from the retractor, essential for the smoky and ash-filled environments where firefighters work.Flashlight retractor/stabilizer kitsalso include the patented Q/C-II quick release connector system that allows either flashlight to be easily and swiftlyremoved from the turnout coat. Gear Keeper offers a complete line of tethering systems. The full array of Gear Keeper tethers and accessories are available on the company’s website. For more information regarding Gear Keeper’sFireman Flashlight Retractor Kits(4-AA flashlight model RT2-4322 &the larger 3-C/ 4-C Rechargable Flashlight model RT3-4323) visit http://www.gearkeeper.com.

Hammerhead Industries’ Glass Keeper Adhesive Film Avoids Additional Injury To Victim
Hammerhead Industries’ Glass Keeper Adhesive Film Avoids Additional Injury To Victim

The Glass Keeper adhesive film quickly attaches to the car window and secures the glass Someone is injured in a car crash every 14 seconds. Of the more than 6 million auto accidents in the United States every year, over half a million require extraction of the victim. To maximize the victim’s chances of survival, it is critical that the injured be removed as quickly and as safely as possible.  After securing the victim, glass management is the firefighter’s next concern. However, when the window is punched-in for access to the patient, a dangerous situation can be made worse. The broken glass that showers the interior and exterior of the vehicle leaves razor sharp shards that impede the safe and quick removal of the victim and rescuer. Equally important, it puts unnecessary time constraints on the critical first 10 minutes of the “Golden Hour.” To avoid additional injury to the victim during the extrication process, firefighters and EMT personnel can now safely “peel away” an automobile window rather than smashing it into the vehicle and surrounding area. The Glass Keeper adhesive film from Hammerhead Industries, quickly attaches to the car window and secures the glass. After the window is ”punched” by the rescuer, the Glass Keeper captures and removes 95% of the broken glass. The entire process takes less than 45 seconds. Without the fear of further injury, the firefighter will have “glass-free” immediate access to the patient. Freeing up the time of valuable rescue workers, the Glass Keeper adhesive film window removal system takes only one person to attach it to the car window and remove the glass. No tools or additional cutting are required. Manufactured with a tenacious adhesive, the Glass Keeper securely bonds to car windows whether they are clean, wet or dirty. “With the Glass Keeper, just apply it to the window, break the glass, pull it off and you’re done. You’re in. It’s clean and it’s quick,” according to Tim Scott, a 22-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.“ In less than a minute, Glass Keeper gives you direct access to the patient. It’s a much more expedient process and it keeps us within that ‘Golden Hour’ to get the patient to the hospital. Using the Glass Keeper to keep the glass out of the vehicle creates a safer environment for everyone involved.” “When involved in a rescue situation it goes without saying that it is extremely important to have the proper gear readily accessible,” says John Salentine, Vice President and co-founder of Hammerhead Industries, manufacturers of the Glass Keeper and Gear Keeper systems. “Because of its life saving ability to expedite an auto accident victim’s extraction time, the Glass Keeper should be standard safety equipment on every fire truck and emergency vehicle. Our new Glass Keeper is a major step forward in auto accident rescue safety.” Individual Glass Keeper adhesive films measure 20” x 30”. They are packaged in a rolled tube containing two Glass Keeper devices. The lightweight and compact product’s list price is $39.99 per set. To order ask for Part# GL3-0002. For a dealer near you, contact Hammerhead Industries at 888.588.9981. The Glass Keeper and full line of Gear Keeper products are available on the company’s website at www.gearkeeper.com.

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