Breathing Apparatus - Expert Commentary

A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment

Firefighting is hot, hazardous, and let's face it, grueling work. But believe it or not, the job today has become even more challenging as firefighters must deal with increased heat loads, toxic substances and other physical challenges that make structural firefighting one of the most demanding professions on the planet. So, needless to say, being well-trained, physically fit, and safely equipped can make all the difference in the world. Evolving Technology The fact is, as heat loads and toxicity exposure risks increase due to modern synthetic construction, the ways in which fires are fought are changing as well. These shifts, combined with the revolution that’s taking place in firefighter protection technology, have led to new and exciting designs in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) offerings. Technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits Take the tried and true SCBA for instance. Since the invention of the first breathing apparatus in the late 1910s, their primary function has been air delivery. But today, technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits. Revolution Of Life-Changing Technology Consider this: the effects of technology today impact virtually every aspect of modern life. And the same is true for the fire service, as software, thermal imaging, and wireless communications capabilities become more mainstream on the fireground. In response to these new capabilities, the consensus organizations responsible for PPE performance standards (i.e. NFPA and EN) have increased standards by mandating certain electronic components for each firefighter. But performance of these components can be limited by the fact that only so many “parts” can be attached to an SCBA, or because some capabilities are simply out of reach from a budget perspective. Over time, these limitations create long-term implications when it comes to SCBA choice, because the breathing apparatus purchased today may have to be in use for the next 15 years or more. So, what are firefighters to do? Firefighters should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future It’s More Than Air Delivery Missed opportunities for more timely safety improvements – which keep up with the pace of technology – are rooted in a false assumption that all SCBA are comprised of separate, mechanical components – and that the SCBA function is only about respiratory protection. But air-delivery is not the issue because every SCBA meets the standards, and every SCBA delivers air well. Further, looking at the SCBA merely as a separate component for air diminishes its potential to serve as a revolutionary safety technology “platform.” Safety As A System Firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus To keep pace with the rapid improvements in firefighter safety, firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus. Instead, they should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future. I’m talking specifically about platform-type products that can be easily updated with the latest technology, as soon as it becomes available, to help protect them when their lives are on the line. Key Questions To Consider When Looking For An SCBA Include: Does the SCBA have features that allow you to see, hear, and react quickly to changing situations? Can the SCBA sizing be customized to best fit each firefighter? How many total batteries are needed for the SCBA, and how does that affect long-term costs? How well does it integrate with other systems, such as communication devices, portable instruments, etc.? Does the SCBA provide you, your team, and incident command with critical information to make effective, life-saving decisions? Can the SCBA be programmed to meet your standard operating procedures, such as audible and visual alarms at 50% remaining pressure? Is the facepiece reducing or adding to overall SCBA cost and complexity? How easily can the SCBA be updated to meet changing standards? How easily can integrated accessories or features, such as thermal imaging, be added as they are developed in the future? At MSA, we develop technologically-advanced safety equipment designed to help meet today's changing fireground dynamics. We’re committed to setting the pace for safety with continuous improvements and innovations in PPE. For today. For tomorrow. For the future.

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 Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA) news

MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program Reaches $1 Million Milestone in 2019
MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program Reaches $1 Million Milestone in 2019

MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) provided 13 volunteer fire departments with needed personal protective equipment through MSA’s 2019 Globe Gear Giveaway. Each department received four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear along with four helmets to better protect their members. This year marks over $1 million worth of gear that has been donated to volunteer fire departments in need since 2012. In total, 507 sets of turnout gear have been awarded to 108 departments. “Protecting firefighters is what we do at MSA,” said Eleni Lucido, vice president and general manager of MSA’s business in the U.S. and Canada. “For more than a century, we’ve been committed to providing workers all around the world with the equipment they need to help keep them safe. We’re proud to partner with the NVFC to provide state-of-the-art turnout gear to departments in need.” Struggle funding Resources “Volunteer fire departments often struggle to fund the resources and equipment necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We are grateful for the generosity of MSA, Globe, and DuPont in providing critical, lifesaving gear to the dedicated volunteers who serve their local communities. Through this incredible program, we have been able to increase the safety and protection for hundreds of firefighters throughout the U.S. and Canada.” 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders According to a needs assessment published by the National Fire Protection Association in 2016, 72 percent of fire departments reported that some of their personal protective clothing was at least 10 years old, and 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders. The data also shows that the need is greatest in small communities that are protected primarily by volunteer firefighters. In 2018, the NVFC began asking program applicants if their department had boots, gloves, helmets, and hoods for all of their firefighters. Nearly 50 percent of 2018 gear recipients indicated that they did not. To help address this issue, MSA donated four helmets to each winning department for the first time in 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020. Recipients of 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway The recipients in the 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway are: Aguila (AZ) Volunteer Fire Department Balsam-Willets-Ochre Hill Volunteer Fire Department (Sylva, NC) Canal Fulton (OH) Fire Department Fuego Volunteer Fire Company (Billings, MT) Harbour Grace (NL, Canada) Volunteer Fire Brigade Jacobstown (NJ) Fire Company Kenduskeag (ME) Fire Rescue Rocky Creek Volunteer Fire Department (Burton, TX) Rutland Volunteer Fire Company (Black River, NY) Salcha (AK) Fire & Rescue Stella Rural Fire Department (Rocky Comfort, MO) Utica (MS) Volunteer Fire Department Witt (IL) Volunteer Fire Department To be eligible for the 2019 Giveaway, departments had to be over 50 percent volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be located in the U.S. or Canada, be a member of the NVFC, and demonstrate significant need for new gear. MSA provided complimentary NVFC membership to the first 500 applicants to help departments meet the membership requirement. The application period for MSA’s 2020 Globe Gear Giveaway will open in February. Thirteen departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear along with four helmets to increase firefighter safety.

MSA G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Certified And Compliant With NFPA Performance Standards
MSA G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Certified And Compliant With NFPA Performance Standards

MSA Safety Incorporated announced that its next generation G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) has received U.S. government approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and certification from the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) as compliant to the 2018 Edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1981 performance standards. With this approval, the company can begin shipping the new NFPA-compliant SCBA immediately. Earlier this year, the SEI, in collaboration with the NIOSH, established a “Common Announcement Date” at which time all breathing apparatus manufacturers that successfully completed testing would receive SEI certification notification at the same time. Demand For New Breathing Apparatus Technology The Common Announcement Date, which was originally anticipated in the second half of August 2019, was postponed to October 9, 2019. Late last week, all breathing apparatus manufactures who had successfully passed required testing, which included MSA, were notified that the Common Announcement Date would be moved to September 30. “We are extremely pleased that the common announcement date was expedited,” said Jason Traynor, MSA's General Manager for Global Respiratory Protection and Fire Helmets. “The demand for new breathing apparatus technology in the U.S. Fire Service has been very solid, and today we’re excited to know that we can continue to help meet that demand without any further delays related to product approvals and certifications.” NFPA 1981 Is The Standard On SCBA As a matter of background, NFPA 1981 is the standard on SCBA for emergency services, establishing respiratory protection and functional requirements. The 2018 revisions in NFPA 1981 include changing the connection requirements for the SCBA regulator, now requiring two distinct actions (i.e., push and pull) to disconnect the regulator from the facepiece. Other changes include a modification to data logging requirements for breathing rate and cylinder pressure.

NVFC, MSA And DuPont Collaborate On New Turnout Gear For Volunteer Fire Departments
NVFC, MSA And DuPont Collaborate On New Turnout Gear For Volunteer Fire Departments

Many volunteer departments are forced to make do with an inadequate amount of turnout gear or with worn-out, non-compliant gear they can’t afford to replace. That’s why MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are working together again in 2019 to distribute new turnout gear to volunteer fire departments through MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program. This annual program began in 2012 to help departments in need properly outfit their crew. To date, the program has delivered 455 sets to 95 departments. NVFC Partners With MSA And DuPont “The NVFC is excited to partner with MSA and DuPont again this year on our annual giveaway,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Proper turnouts are essential to ensure the safety of our boots on the ground, but many volunteer departments struggle to provide adequate protection to their firefighters. We are grateful to MSA and DuPont for their generosity in giving back to those who serve.” MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need" “MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need,” said chief operating officer of MSA’s Globe firefighter protective apparel Tom Vetras. “For more than 100 years we’ve been dedicated to protecting those who protect us, so when there are first responders in need – we’re proud to be able to help.” Firefighters’ Protection and Safety “With DuPont’s continued focus on protecting firefighters, we are proud and humbled to partner alongside MSA and the NVFC on this much needed gear giveaway program,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager, DuPont. “Ensuring that these brave men and women are protected as they selflessly serve their communities is paramount to DuPont, and we look forward to the kick-off of another successful Globe Gear Giveaway campaign.” The 2019 application period for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway is now open. 13 departments will each receive four sets of new gear, for a total of 52 sets. The first 500 applicants will also receive a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. Departmental Criteria To be eligible to apply for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway, departments must meet the following criteria: Be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50 percent) Serve a population of 25,000 or less Be located in the U.S. or Canada and legally organized under state/province law Demonstrate a need for the gear Department or person applying must be a member of the NVFC. To help departments meet the membership criteria, MSA will provide a complimentary NVFC Membership to the first 500 applicants.

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