Boots - Expert Commentary

Firefighter Uniform Adapts To Cancer Risk, Active Shooter Threat
Firefighter Uniform Adapts To Cancer Risk, Active Shooter Threat

More than an outfit. More thought than one leg at a time. Putting on the uniform is not just an ordinary daily task, but a habitual part of preparing for the unexpected. Yes, a firefighter’s uniform is more than an outfit. Think about who is wearing it and the risks they are exposed to on a daily basis. The firefighter comes from a long line of heroes, a brotherhood and sisterhood, with traditions to uphold and a reputation to maintain. Their uniform is no different. Its historical navy-blue threads. Classic, professional appearance. Tactical features. Technology-driven fabric. Over time, the uniform’s engineering has needed to adapt with new designs and react to worsened exposures and more dangerous rescue missions. The 21st Century firefighter’s uniform is unique and specific to the job with current trends fixating on the best user experience while future plans focus on preventative and safety measures due to increased societal and architectural risks. Comfortable firefighter uniform So, what does the 21st Century firefighter want? Comfort. Beyond Personal Protective Equipment, it is an overwhelming plea for a more comfortable uniform to wear. This includes garments that are easy “wash and wear” materials that do not require additional ironing. Firefighters do not want to lose the professional appearance or tactical functionality of the uniform The trend calls for lightweight, breathable, cool-weather wear that is less restrictive and offers more give and more stretch so firefighters can perform their job responsibilities more efficiently. However, they do not want to lose the professional appearance or tactical functionality of the uniform. “We need something that looks presentable every time,” said Chief Robert Burdette of Grand Blanc Fire Department, Michigan. Additionally, more firefighters are also starting to wear polo shirts or mesh T-shirts under their Turnout gear, for a lighter weight, more breathable option from the traditional uniform shirt. The trend calls for lightweight, breathable, cool-weather wear that is less restrictive Risk of cancer Unfortunately, comfort is not the only concern firefighters have when it comes to uniforms, or their safety in general. As risky and demanding of a profession the fire service can be, the fires have proven not to be the most hazardous or life threatening. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, “Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today.” A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that firefighters have a 9% increased chance of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% increased chance to die from cancer compared to the general United States population. Chief Dennis Jenkerson of the St. Louis Fire Department in Missouri is one of many chiefs actively fighting these statistics. Responsible for 32 firehouses, Jenkerson has witnessed the reality of this threat with the loss of four of his own and understands the validity of the situation. For the last 18 months, the St. Louis Fire Department has made headway implementing a drastic culture change by evaluating everything from equipment, apparel, lifestyle and more.  Cancer affecting firefighters “It is so prevalent that everything we do anymore has to do with some emphasis on protecting firefighters from getting cancer,” said Chief Mike Ramm of Sylvania Township Fire Department, Ohio. “Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today” According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, the cancers that have mostly affected firefighters are respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), gastrointestinal (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine) and kidney. “Testicular cancer is through the roof,” added Jenkerson, who has pushed his firefighters to get tested for cancers earlier than normally necessary. He also explained that the imagery of a firefighter drinking from a fire hydrant can no longer happen. He emphasized the importance of cleaning up instantly after every fire. Think of the simple act of removing grimy gloves after a call – at least one hand has been exposed to the cancerous contaminants if it was accidentally used to take off the other glove. If that unwashed, contaminated hand touches food that goes into the mouth of the firefighter, he/she is essentially eating what may cause esophageal, oral cavity or gastric cancers. Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) via the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, cancer caused 61% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from January 1, 2002 to March 31, 2017. Additionally, 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters were because of cancer in 2016. Unfortunately, this hazard is not going away any time soon. The new building materials and new house furnishings have become the culprit for this major concern. These materials are man-made and are not of natural resources. When burned, they create deadly carcinogens that the firefighters are getting exposed to firsthand. Immediate decontamination process Jenkerson’s implementation of a culture change includes an immediate decontamination process following a fire, which involves getting hosed with water, cleansing wipes for all soft tissue areas of the body and an immediate shower back at the station. “Any place you can get a five degree rise in skin temperature, the absorption level goes up 10 times,” Jenkerson warned. His firefighters are instructed to remove their bunker gear, uniform, helmet and all other equipment right away that get immediately washed once they have returned to the station. Hems, collars, cuffs and cargo pockets are areas of the uniform where toxins get caught He also restricts all firefighters and EMTs from going on a second run until they have showered and have put on a new, clean set of clothes, all the way down to their underwear. “There are no two-runs. We have to get this stuff off [of them].” Uniform manufacturers are tasked with finding a solution to help facilitate Jenkerson’s and other Fire Chiefs’ visions by designing a uniform with as little gaps and fold-over materials as possible. “Everything needs to be sealed tight,” Jenkerson explained. Hems, collars, cuffs and cargo pockets are all areas of the uniform where toxins get caught. A lightweight shirt option that offers a crew collar with a two to three button placket and a lightweight, ventilated hidden cargo pant could be the future of fire uniforms. “There isn’t another profession that has the thousands of dangers that we have every day,” Ramm explained. Additional and ongoing efforts currently underway according to the NFPA Journal, include those by the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, the Congressional Firefighter Cancer Registry, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the FPRF Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control, and the International Association of Firefighters. Active shooter emergency response Firefighters and EMTs increasingly need to wear bullet proof vests with the surge in active shooter calls An additional and unfortunate trend that is also sweeping the nation is the need for firefighters and EMTs to wear bullet proof vests. Departments are trying their best to arm their men and women with this protection along with ballistic helmets in certain regions due to the surge in active shooter calls. “In areas that have a lot of gang-related activity, [bullet proof vests] would be beneficial,” said Jason Reyes of Allen Fire Department, Texas. “Sometimes you go on calls when the city doesn’t have enough police to respond to calls, which creates a situation that leaves firefighters unprotected and vulnerable.” Currently the market has ballistic vests available that can either be worn over or under a firefighter’s uniform and under their bunker gear. Uniform manufacturers also offer an external vest carrier option that is worn over a firefighter’s uniform to look like part of the uniform shirt to maintain a professional appearance. Distinguishing firefighters from law enforcement “Firefighters find themselves becoming targets more and more these days,” added Deputy Chief of Operations Dwayne Jamison of Bartow County Fire Department, Georgia. “Many departments, including my own, are looking to outfit their firefighters with bullet proof vests.” Although this trend has not affected every region, industry experts can see the need becoming more widespread if threats continue to increase the way they have been. Along the same lines, firefighters want to be identified as firefighters and not mistaken for law enforcement. “We don’t want to look like police,” Jenkerson said. “We want to be identified as firefighters. Even if it takes a different stripe.” When it comes to uniform trends for firefighters, it is clear there is more to focus on than the technical details. For many fire departments, future trends could serve as a tool to prevent deadly toxins from being absorbed and from lethal bullets puncturing unprotected firefighters and EMTs. The uniform is more than an outfit. With a larger purpose than to shield a body, the uniform goes beyond the navy-blue threads, professional appearance and tactical features to one day supporting what could be a lifesaving concept. Sources Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Preventing Cancer in the Fire Service National Fire Protection Association,  Firefighters and Cancer NFPA Journal, Fast Track: Some of the national efforts underway to fight cancer in the fire service; Roman, Jesse; 2017 

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Designs For Marine Firefighting
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Designs For Marine Firefighting

The latest personal protection equipment (PPE) are being designed to meet new regulatory standards Marine firefighting encompasses activities to extinguish any type of fire in a marine environment. For many years, this meant dealing with fires on seagoing vessels, or more specifically, shipping. In this article, Richard Cranham, International Sales Manager at Bristol Uniforms, sheds light on the various fire hazards at sea and the latest protection outfits designed to meet new regulatory standards.   Nature of marine fire hazards At one time, marine fire risks were primarily associated with shipping and the vessels or their cargoes. In the 21st century, however, the seas and oceans are increasingly becoming sites for static structures. Many of these are associated with oil, gas and other mineral exploration and harvesting. Clearly the range of fire hazards associated with these different activities varies widely. In some situations, firefighters will be able to work onboard, depending on the severity of the fire, but, following a blow out or explosion aboard an oil rig or gas production platform, fighting the ensuing fire may only be possible from firefighting vessels. Also, the characteristics of the fires facing firefighters will reflect the volatility and flammability of the materials involved in the conflagration. Some materials burn much hotter than others. Some will throw off burning shards or molten materials, some can be unpredictable either due to the composition of the flammable materials involved (in particular hydrocarbons and chemicals) or prevailing weather conditions. Wind speed and direction can be particularly variable out at sea and can cause rapid changes in the levels of hazard experienced by firefighters. Personal protection equipment (PPE) to suit the conditions As with land-based firefighting, the type of personal protection equipment required is increasingly being designed to protect against the specific nature of the fire hazards most commonly encountered. New marine firefighting standards introduced for use throughout Europe equate the hazards, if not the conditions, associated with typical shipping fires with those commonly experienced in structural fires. This has led to the new Marine Equipment Directive (MarED) standards, enshrined in EU Commission Directive 2010/68/EU, to adopt EN 469 (2005) as its benchmark for basic protective clothing for firefighting (A.1/3.3). This means that, throughout the EU, local fire & rescue authorities can deal with ship-board fires occurring in rivers, docks and coastal waters wearing their regular structural fire kit. As with all PPE, compatibility is important and appropriately matched helmets, boots and gloves should be supplied For parts of the world outside the EU, a new international standard has recently been developed. The new standard, BS ISO 22488:2011 [Ships and marine technology – shipboard firefighters’ outfits (protective clothing, gloves, boots and helmet)], has drawn substantially on the work undertaken for the recently issued European Standard. Close proximity firefighting involving gas and oil fires requires protection from the intense heat and flames produced in such ‘hot fires’ and call for quite different types of protective clothing. In some circumstances this type of firefighting will require PPE satisfying ISO 15538 (2001) - Protective clothing with a reflective outer surface (A.1/3.3). New PPE designs to meet new standards Yellow outerlayer on marine firefighting garments signify its use by emergency incident crews battling different types of fires at sea. Garments meeting EN 469 (2005), as used by European municipal firefighters, can also be deployed by them when dealing with shipping fires on river estuaries, in ports and docks and in coastal waters. For fighting fires involving shipping at sea, and for other marine fire emergencies, an alternative is the new design fleet suits which are being introduced to coincide with the implementation of the new EU Commission Directive. As with all PPE, compatibility is important and appropriately matched helmet, boots and gloves should be supplied. In Europe, these should be to MarED approved standards, and include firefighting helmet to EN 443, gloves to EN 659 and firefighter boots to EN 15090 whilst the new international standard, BS ISO 22488:2011, when introduced, may be adopted in other parts of the world.   Richard CranhamInternational Sales ManagerBristol Uniforms

Latest Bristol Uniforms Ltd. news

ACT Fire & Rescue Selects MSA Bristol's Firefighting PPE
ACT Fire & Rescue Selects MSA Bristol's Firefighting PPE

Pac Fire in Australia has secured a new contract to supply state-of-the-art MSA Bristol structural firefighting PPE to ACT Fire & Rescue (ACTF&R). ACTF&R provides a rapid response capability from nine strategically located Fire Stations across the Australian Capital Territory. Having taken the decision to update its kit and transition to the next generation in structural firefighting Personal Protective Clothing (PPC), it underwent an extensive procurement process, and a rigorous trial and evaluation period to test products available on the market. As a result, MSA Bristol's popular XFlex range was selected, and an order was placed with Pac Fire for approximately 1,000 sets. Protective clothing designer XFlex range has been designed with sports styling and lightweight fabrics, providing advanced comfort and protection MSA Bristol is a foremost designer and manufacturer of protective clothing for emergency services across the globe, formed by the recent acquisition of Bristol Uniforms by MSA Safety. Its XFlex range has been ergonomically designed with sports styling and lightweight fabrics, providing advanced comfort and protection. The unique fabric combination consists of Safety Components Nomex@ 360™, combined with a GORE@ PARALLON™ 600 liner system which provides unparalleled levels of breathability while preventing drops in thermal protection. PPE Feedback A spokesperson from ACT Emergency Services Agency commented, "It is important to us that we provide sizes and cuts that afford the best possible protection and comfort to our people. MSA Bristol's XFlex provides garments that meet these requirements.” "Technology in all aspects of firefighting is moving at a rapid pace, and PPC technology is no different. ACT Fire & Rescue is excited to provide cutting edge PPC technology to its firefighters." Comfort and protection Paul Clark, Business Development Manager from Pac Fire commented, "We're delighted to have won this significant contract, providing firefighters across ACT with cutting-edge kit that provides optimal protection alongside excellent comfort and manoeuvrability." Partnership  Paul Gibson, International Sales Manager from MSA Bristol commented, "MSA Bristol has been working closely alongside Pac Fire, supplying specialist firefighter PPE to customers in Australia for more than 13 years. Our XFlex range is popular with firefighters across Australasia and the world, consistently performing well in user trials thanks to its light weight and flexibility. We look forward to supplying ACTF&R for many years to come."

MSA Bristol’s Manager Paul Gibson Talks About The Role Of Emergency Responders In The Mining Industry
MSA Bristol’s Manager Paul Gibson Talks About The Role Of Emergency Responders In The Mining Industry

Paul Gibson, International Sales Manager for MSA Bristol, a pioneer of cutting-edge firefighter protection, talks to Matt Campbell, Emergency Services Principal at Rio Tinto in Australia, about the role of Emergency Responders in the mining industry and their specific PPE requirements. In an industry such as mining, health and safety is absolutely paramount. By the nature of the job, workers tend to deal with heavy machinery, often in hostile conditions, and frequently operate in remote areas where sometimes a hospital can only reasonably be reached by air. Effective emergency services The global mining giant, Rio Tinto, mines and processes mineral resources, including iron ore, copper, diamonds, aluminum, borates, salt, and titanium dioxide. It owns an integrated network of 16 iron-ore mines across the vast Pilbara region in the northwest of Australia. They are supported by four independent port terminals as well as a 1,700km rail network and related infrastructure. Matt Campbell helps to manage 120 full-time Emergency Services Officers (ESOs) and Supervisors Evidently, the provision of effective emergency services for the thousands of workers employed at these mines is essential to the smooth running of Rio Tinto’s operations in the area. Matt Campbell is Emergency Services Principal for Rio Tinto, responsible for co-ordinating Emergency Response teams, setting protocols, and overseeing emergency operations in the Pilbara region. He helps to manage 120 full-time Emergency Services Officers (ESOs) and Supervisors stationed across the mine sites, as well as a team of 550 volunteers who make up the Emergency Response Teams. High-Quality PPE All volunteers are full-time employees or contractors for Rio Tinto, who have been provided with specialist training and assist the ESOs on a rota system. The Emergency Response teams are trained to handle all manner of incidents, from medical emergencies and structural fires to wildfires and road traffic accidents. Matt explains what a typical day might entail for the Emergency Response teams, and how the well-organized provision of high-quality PPE helps to keep them safe: “Our Emergency Response teams work on a Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) or are residential in nearby townsites. For the FIFO teams, they are flown in from towns and cities across Western Australia to work 12-hour shifts for an intensive eight days at a time. The work is busy and varied, since the team acts as a fire crew and an ambulance crew, as well as running the site medical centers.” Fire-Related incidents During the hottest months of the year we can also be called upon to help control bush fires in the area" “Shifts begin with prepping equipment for the day ahead and ensuring all equipment is operationally ready for response. The Medical Centers are open to see to any employees with health concerns or minor injuries, as well as undertaking randomized alcohol and drug screening exercises. There are also frequent training sessions to ensure skills are kept up to date. Of course, in addition to this, the teams need to be ready to respond immediately to a variety of emergencies that could occur at any time.” “Our most common call-outs are medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrests, that need a swift response and medical intervention. We also handle two or three fire-related incidents per week across the region. These are usually structural fires involving mining equipment or buildings. During the hottest months of the year we can also be called upon to help control bush fires in the area.” Ensuring best practice “These tend to be fast-moving grass fires that can be very dangerous, so we work closely with the government fire teams to co-ordinate a rapid and effective response. Occasionally, around once a month, we are called to deal with a road traffic accident. Thankfully, in such a remote location the roads are fairly quiet, but we do have a number of high-speed zones and highways with fast-moving traffic, so when a collision occurs it can be serious.” We pride ourselves in ensuring that every ERT site is well-managed and co-ordinated" “Our Operations are divided into three regions: Coastal, West Pilbara and East Pilbara. I work with the Central Emergency Services Team, which involves flying to a different site in each of these areas every week to help with coaching, auditing and problem solving. We pride ourselves in ensuring that every ERT site is well-managed and co-ordinated, operating in the same way and using the same systems and protocols to ensure best practice.” Protective clothing and equipment “The provision and maintenance of specialist PPE plays a very important role in this. When we send our crew into emergency situations, we need to be satisfied that they have good-quality protective clothing and equipment that will keep them safe. In 2017, we overhauled our PPE provision by purchasing 400 sets of MSA Bristol’s Ergotech Action structural firefighting jackets and trousers, via Pac Fire, their dedicated distributor in Australia.” “The kit was more expensive than our previous PPE, but well worth the cost. It is comfortable, lightweight, ergonomic and breathable, and the moisture barrier in particular performs a dual role: stopping water passing through to the responder’s personal clothing while allowing perspiration and heat to escape to the outside atmosphere. This reduces the risk of heat stress to the responder and keeps the body cool. Heat stress is a very real danger out here where temperatures frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius.” Harmful smoke particles Our BARRIO system ensures that each member of the team has access to kit that is the right size" “Along with the new PPE, we also introduced an innovative and award-winning system for handling its cleaning and maintenance. Across the world, fire and rescue services are learning more about the long-term health impacts from exposure to contaminants both during and after a fire-related incident. At Rio Tinto, we faced the challenge of devising a cost-effective means of providing well-fitting, high-quality PPE for a varied and interchanging workforce. In addition, being remotely located, miles from professional cleaning services, we also needed a means of efficiently cleaning and decontaminating kit on site.” “Our BARRIO system ensures that each member of the team has access to kit that is the right size, clean and fit for purpose, and that exposure to harmful smoke particles is kept to a minimum. Rather than providing an individual with their own set of kit, the BARRIO system effectively works as a well-stocked library. Each member of the team is carefully measured and has a ready-made kit for response.” Industrial-Scale washing machines “Immediately following an incident, kit is placed in a DOT bag – a storage device for contaminated PPE – which is then placed in a designated area on the fire truck and taken back to the station. The PPE is then laundered, where the responder will take another set from the BARRIO library to reinstate their kit for the next response. Each station has at least two industrial-scale washing machines to handle the cleaning of the kit, which is then dried and placed back in the BARRIO library ready for use.” Our teams have been called out to major structural fires that have lasted up to 12 hours" “Under the BARRIO system, the life cycle of each garment is monitored, with a log kept dating it’s manufacture and every wearer, incident, wash and repair. Occasionally, we do have to deal with major incidents, and thankfully when put to the test, our PPE and BARRIO system continue to perform well. Our teams have been called out to major structural fires that have lasted up to 12 hours.” Emergency Response teams “Despite the intense heat, the Ergotech Action PPE helped to keep our Emergency Responders cool and protected, and the BARRIO system ensured that kit was handled safely after the fire was extinguished. It is evident that Emergency Responders working in the mining industry are operating under a unique set of circumstances.” “They must be adaptable, multi-skilled, and prepared to deal with a myriad of possible incidents on any given day. Rio Tinto have clearly prioritized the health and wellbeing of their Emergency Response teams by devising and investing in an excellent system to provide them with top-quality PPE, backed up with an efficiently managed cleaning and maintenance program, thereby maximizing user safety in both the short and long term.”

MSA Bristol Secures Major Contract With Scottish Fire And Rescue Service
MSA Bristol Secures Major Contract With Scottish Fire And Rescue Service

MSA Bristol is a foremost supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) to firefighters across the globe. Its specialist, in-house managed services team are now responsible for the inspection, washing, and repair of all structural, urban search and rescue, and wildland PPE for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s 6,660 firefighters, including fire coats, trousers, hoods, and gloves. As part of the contract, MSA Bristol regularly collects PPE from key fire service hubs which are spread throughout Scotland. The PPE is then thoroughly cleaned, decontaminated, and inspected for signs of damage or wear. If any issues are identified, items are swiftly repaired and then returned to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – all within seven days. Service Center and History MSA Bristol has two in-house service centers in Bristol and London and is in the process of setting up a third in Livingston, Scotland. The servicing of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s PPE is currently taking place in Bristol, but this will move to Scotland later in the year when its new service center goes live. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s PPE was procured through the UK Collaborative PPE Contract, and supplied by MSA Bristol. Each item of PPE, therefore, has a unique bar code, which enables MSA Bristol and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to effectively track its service history. PPE Maintenance Edward Shepherd, MSA Bristol’s Service Operations Director said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has put its trust in us to clean and maintain its PPE. As manufacturers of their PPE, we know it inside out and can ensure it remains clean and always fit for purpose.” The cleaning and maintenance of PPE is a top priority for the fire industry “The cleaning and maintenance of PPE is a top priority for the fire industry, with the vast majority of UK fire and rescue services now taking up professional managed services provision as part of their PPE contracts.” “In recent years, MSA Bristol has seen a significant increase in take up of Fully Managed Services packages in the UK, partly due to convenience and competitive pricing, but also partly due to health concerns. Our new service centre in Livingston will enable us to handle more items of PPE and improve our resilience.” Firefighters PPE remains fit for purpose Roddy Mackinnon, Equipment Manager at Scottish Fire and Rescue said: “As the largest Fire and Rescue Service in the UK, it is essential that all of our firefighters have the right PPE and equipment to continue to serve the local communities of Scotland and are adequately protected while doing this.” “Regular cleaning, decontamination and repair is recognised by the Service and industry as the best way to ensure firefighters’ PPE remains fit for purpose. We have been using MSA Bristol’s managed services since March 2021 and have been very impressed with the level of service and quick turnaround times.”

vfd