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Need For Wearable Technology In Mission-Critical Environments
Need For Wearable Technology In Mission-Critical Environments

The front line fire and rescue teams have had their hands full during the pandemic, more so than one might think. In the UK, for instance, fire and rescue teams attended more than half a million incidents throughout 2020, with more than 150,000 of them regarded as serious fires. Across the Atlantic, the US Fire Administration has reported 42 firefighter fatalities so far this year, despite swathes of the country still being in lockdown as the vaccine rollout continues to pick up the pace. These figures are down on previous years, but only by a very slight margin. firefighters work Endlessly  Despite much of society going into a form of hibernation to protect themselves and loved ones from the spread of COVID-19, firefighters are among the many frontline workers still putting their lives on the line to keep us safe, and their job hasn’t changed. If anything, they’ve been exposed to even more risk than usual in carrying out their frontline duty, from putting our fires at homes and businesses to maintaining a presence at protests. Put simply, the firefighters are putting themselves at risk every day. Attention has therefore turned to ways everyone can mitigate that risk and keep the front-line workers safe, such as hands-free critical communications equipment and protective gear. Those on the front line have been considering these technologies very carefully since the beginning of the pandemic, re-evaluating how they can best be used to facilitate social distancing and reduce contact without compromising on mission-critical activities. protective, wearable technology ‘Smart PPE’ is a new generation of protective, wearable technology that can keep front-line workers safe, connected They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that certainly holds in this instance. The rise of so-called ‘smart PPE’ represents a new generation of protective, wearable technology that can keep the front-line workers safe, connected, and mobile - all vital prerequisites to a team of fast-moving firefighters during a global pandemic. Seamless mission-critical communication All front-line workers need to be able to maintain contact with one another during busy shifts whilst also staying safe and keeping their distance from one another to limit the spread of the virus. That’s as true for nurses as it is for warehouse staff. However, mission-critical front-line workers such as paramedics, police officers, and firefighters frequently find themselves in noisy, hazardous environments that require fast movement and near-instant reaction times. Smart PPE Firefighters in particular can rarely afford the time to handle a hands-on radio unit or interface with buttons and switches to get a message across to their colleagues. They need to be able to speak to their colleagues on the other side of a burning building or across a crowd of people as if they were in the same room together, without the need to handle any additional equipment or touch surfaces unnecessarily. Doing so slows them down and could increase their chances of catching COVID-19. That’s where Smart PPE comes in.  Smart PPE is a future-proof approach to mission-critical comms that combines protective gear like helmets, visors, and overalls with wearable technology Cardo Crew Pro-1 Smart PPE is a future-proof approach to mission-critical comms that combines protective gear like helmets, visors, and overalls with wearable technology. This technology can be manufactured into the PPE from the beginning, or retrofitted into existing equipment to gain the same effect. Take the Cardo Crew Pro-1 for instance. It’s a lightweight mesh communication module that fits inside equipment such as ear guards, helmets, and visors without compromising on comfort or safety. It’s designed specifically to allow PPE manufacturers themselves to integrate mission-critical comms technology into their equipment, massively increasing its value and usefulness to teams on the ground. Mesh communications technology It can be voice-activated, making it ideal for COVID-secure environments where contact should be minimum This kind of mission-critical, comms-enabled PPE is built on a technology known as ‘mesh communication’. While not a replacement for PMR or cellular communication altogether, a mesh-based intercom system is quickly becoming the technology of choice for small teams who need to exchange information quickly, reliably, and securely. One of the greatest advantages of wireless mesh communication is that it operates as a self-sufficient standalone network, with no need for a ‘base station’ and zero dependence on cellular reception. It can be voice-activated, making it perfect for COVID-secure work environments where contact should be kept to a minimum. It also enables two-way conversation at a range of up to 3,000 meters, making it ideal for busy front-line teams working in the field. Beyond emergency services Even with vaccine rollouts firmly underway, everyone is likely to be mindful of social distancing and reduced contact for some time yet, particularly as new variants of the virus emerge and people take their first tentative steps toward international travel. Therefore, there is a likeliness to see wireless mesh communication technology extend beyond frontline emergency services and into other environments such as hospitals, warehouses, factories, and anywhere that requires teams to communicate while maintaining social distancing and keeping contact to a minimum. Development of new technologies The surging popularity of wearable technology and mesh communications is likely to strengthen the relationship between PPE manufacturers and their customers, resulting in even more innovation in the PPE industry. Organizations such as fire and rescue teams will continue to push themselves to find new, forward-thinking ways of carrying out their duties safely - not only in a way that enables hands-free, COVID-safe working but in a way that allows them to stay in lockstep with their colleagues with minimal effort. The impact of COVID-19 on the fire industry has no doubt thrown up challenges, as it has with every frontline sector, but the response to those challenges has been overwhelmingly positive and the future of the industry will be better for it.

Firefighter Health: Precautions to Take During Flu Season
Firefighter Health: Precautions to Take During Flu Season

This time of year we remind communities to change their smoke detector batteries, advise them how to be safe while cooking during the holidays and, for those of us in wildland fire-prone communities, encourage them to follow the “Ready, Set, Go” model to properly prepare. But there’s another dangerous “season” out there we need to be aware of. In addition to Covid–19, flu season is among us and, as with fire, it’s important to take preventive measures and prepare your resources (you!). When it comes to being exposed to airborne and bloodborne pathogenic germs, firefighters are among the most at risk. And this is not just a little inconvenience that one or two sick days can cure. Emergency rooms become saturated this time of year with people suffering from the flu, which generally peaks between December and April. Harvard Medical School estimates that 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year in the U.S. due to flu. So, how’s your personal “Prevention Bureau” doing? Are you taking preventive measures to mitigate your risk for flu? Have you and your family received the flu vaccine? How about those you work with? Are you stocked up on over-the-counter medications? If you think about it, firefighting and “flu fighting” are very similar. Both start out small, but if not rapidly attacked, they develop into a much worse situation. Let’s look at this similarity a little more closely. Firefighting versus flu fighting: Incipient stage 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year in the U.S. due to flu Fire - This first stage begins when heat, oxygen and a fuel source combine and have a chemical reaction resulting in fire. This is also known as “ignition” and is usually represented by a very small fire that hopefully goes out on its own before severe stages are reached. Recognizing a fire in this stage provides your best chance at suppression or escape. Cold/Flu - The incipient stage is the incubation period, or the time it takes for a person who has been exposed to the virus to become infected (think of infection as ignition). The Merck Manual’s Online Medical Library section on influenza reports the incubation period may be from one to four days (first stage), averaging about 48 hours from exposure. Controlling the spread Fire - As the fire grows, the structure’s fire load and available oxygen are used as fuel for the fire. The fire starts rapidly spreading to other parts of the building, creating more damage. It is during this shortest of the four stages when a deadly “flashover” can occur, potentially trapping, injuring or killing firefighters. Cold/Flu - The U.S. Library of Medicine defines communicability as the time it takes an infectious agent to be transmitted from an infected person to another person (spreading rapidly). Once infected with influenza-type illnesses, the affected person may begin shedding the virus to others one day before signs and symptoms occur and continue to be contagious after symptoms begin. Prevention is all but impossible at this stage of the disease. Fully Developed When it comes to being exposed to airborne and bloodborne pathogenic germs, firefighters are among the most at risk Fire - When all combustible materials have been ignited, a fire is considered fully developed. This is the hottest phase of a fire and the most dangerous for anybody trapped within it. At this point our efforts are generally focused on protecting endangered structures. We surround the fire, apply massive amounts of water and let the contents burn themselves out. Cold/Flu - Fighting a fully developed flu virus is not much different. You position yourself in a safe place (usually your bed!) and “surround and drown” with fluids/rest. You generally cannot do much except protect exposures (others) by limiting your contact with them. The Firefighter Flu Prevention Bureau If fighting the flu has similarities with fighting fire, we can extend the metaphor a little further. In the fire service we rely on our Fire Prevention Bureau to educate the public as to the common causes of residential fires. We understand that a little education goes a long way in preventing fires. Well, the flu is no different, except this time we’re educating ourselves! So, following are a few tips from your friendly Flu Prevention Bureau: Wash your hands. The most important prevention measure for preventing colds and flu is frequent hand washing. Rub your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds to slough germs off the skin. Get a flu vaccine. Within two weeks of getting a flu vaccine, antibodies develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Children receiving the vaccine for the first time need two doses delivered one month apart. If you get exposed or get sick, take action. Give yourself time to recover, with plenty of fluids and lots of rest. Seek medical help if your symptoms don’t improve. Antiviral medicine may also help prevent flu if you have been exposed to someone with flu symptoms. In this flu season, take steps to protect your health and the health of those around you. Check with your NFPA—or Nearest Family Physician Available—for additional preventive measures on reducing this risk!

PPE Designers To Develop Innovative Solutions For Firefighters With Maximum Protection And Comfort
PPE Designers To Develop Innovative Solutions For Firefighters With Maximum Protection And Comfort

Across the world, fire and rescue services vary greatly, and each will have their own unique circumstances and challenges to deal with. Firefighters in the USA and Australia are more likely to face wildland fires, whilst in the Middle East, firefighters deal more regularly with transport related fires involving hazardous materials. In many European countries, less than 10% of call-outs are fire related at all, with firefighters much more likely to attend traffic accidents, medical emergencies or flooding. A range of different climates also provide firefighters with specific challenges. Providing Optimum Protection These fabrics can offer resistance to fire, increased breathability, control of moisture, and a lighter weight Firefighters in hot and tropical Indonesia for example, will have different requirements to those in hot and arid South Africa, whilst those in Scandinavia operate in more temperate and cooler conditions. It’s important, therefore, that PPE manufacturers can provide a wide variety of options to suit particular environments and operations. PPE must be highly effective, comfortable, and suitable for the job in hand, wherever in the world the firefighters are operating. Selecting the right fabric for your PPE is the first step in providing optimum protection for the environment you are operating in. International fibre and fabric manufacturers have developed a number of highly specialized materials offering a range of benefits. Used in combination, these fabrics can offer resistance to fire, increased breathability, control of moisture, and a lighter weight. Best Quality Firefighting Garments Highly specialized and lightweight fibers for the outer-shell of a garment, for example, can provide outstanding air permeability and breathability, allowing metabolic heat to escape, whilst of course providing vital protection against the intense external heat and flames of a fire. The best quality firefighting garments combine this type of outer shell with an inner moisture barrier and liner system which draws moisture away from the skin, helping to keep the body cool and dry. Strenuous work in a hot environment causes profuse sweating, and if this sweat is not able to evaporate, the body is not able to cool itself effectively. Once the most appropriate fabric is chosen, the design and style of a garment also plays a crucial role in contributing to a firefighters’ safety. Maintaining A Comfortable Body Temperature Search and Rescue operations often take place once the immediate danger of flame is removed Whether operating in bushland, floods, on the roadside or even in extremely cold conditions, firefighters need to maintain a comfortable body temperature and stay dry. They are also likely to need to crawl, run, and climb to carry out the job in hand. Any protective clothing must be ergonomic and has to be able to work with them rather than hinder them. As a result, over and above the full structural firefighting garments available to FRSs, manufacturers have also developed innovative designs for more specific applications. For example, Search and Rescue operations often take place once the immediate danger of flame is removed, with USAR or technical rescue teams entering enclosed and confined spaces where high temperatures and often toxic smoke are hazards. Particular Protection Against Radiant Heat USAR firefighting garments therefore should be tear and puncture resistant, provide protection against blood-borne pathogens, offer physical protection at high risk points such as the knees and elbows, provide a high level of flexibility to afford maneuvrability in confined spaces, and crucially be lightweight and breathable to minimize heat stress. Alternatively, for firefighters engaged specifically in combatting forest and wildland fires, garments need to provide particular protection against radiant heat, and ideally feature a double layer of fabric to protect against sharp thorns and undergrowth. Today, many FRSs across the world use a combination of structural and technical rescue garments which can be particularly useful when faced with a range of operations requiring different levels of protection. Rescue jackets are worn with standard structural trousers when responding to a road traffic accident International Standards Of Performance For PPE Frequently, rescue jackets are worn with standard structural trousers when responding to a road traffic accident, for example. So long as these garments are tested and approved as compatible before they are used in combination, this can serve to improve ergonomics and comfort, and crucially can contribute to the lowering of heat stress in firefighters. There are currently three major standard-setting bodies on the world stage To ensure the best level of protection, most countries demand conformity with both national and international standards of performance for PPE. There are currently three major standard-setting bodies on the world stage, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which covers the USA, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) which covers Europe, and the International Standards Organisation (ISO) which sets standards worldwide. Lighting And Communications Equipment In addition, each country will have its own National Standards Body (NSB), setting standards for its own specific interests. Ultimately, it is down to the customer to decide which standards they would like their PPE to follow. The best manufacturers can create PPE to meet a number of these standards simultaneously. These include alternative types of trouser front, leg openings and knee-pads, as well as cuff styles on fire coats Different countries, and even individual FRSs, often have particular additional requirements for their PPE, which can simply be down to style or color preference, or to accommodate particular tools or equipment they use. These include alternative types of trouser front, leg openings and knee-pads, as well as cuff styles on fire coats. Operational safety features such as integrated safety harnesses and drag rescue devices can also be specified. In addition, firefighter accessories including tools, lighting and communications equipment all have to be carried safely requiring a selection of loops, straps, D-rings, glove hooks, and pockets and flaps. Developing Innovative Solutions Finally, most FRSs aim to present a professional and clearly recognizable identity to their communities, so particular colors and badging can be an important feature of PPE. This has led to the introduction of a wide range of fabric colors and the increased use of Velcro fixings for identification badges with logos, names and roles being individually catered for. Called upon to handle an ever-increasing variety of challenges, in contrasting climates and situations, firefighters across the world are certainly faced with complex environments in which to operate. By carefully studying these conditions and listening closely to customers, PPE designers and fabric manufacturers will continue to work together to develop innovative solutions to meet these specific needs and create optimum garments for maximum protection and comfort.

Latest Ballyclare Limited news

Ballyclare Shares The Details Of The Recent Contract For PPE And New Additions To Their XENON Range Of Firefighting Clothing
Ballyclare Shares The Details Of The Recent Contract For PPE And New Additions To Their XENON Range Of Firefighting Clothing

Ballyclare has revealed details of a major new tender win with the latest additions to its XENON range of multi-functional structural firefighting clothing. The contract, which covers PPE for some 3,200 firefighters, has been awarded by three fire and rescue services in the Yorkshire and Humberside region and includes new additions to the XENON range which have been developed to meet the specific demands of this customer. Provide bespoke solutions “With today’s firefighting and rescue professionals facing an ever-expanding range of challenges, we continue to develop our XENON garments to make sure they offer the highest levels of protection,” explains Ballyclare’s Business Development Manager, Andrew Buckley. We’re constantly working with our customers to advance the XENON range" “We’re constantly working with our customers to advance the XENON range and provide bespoke solutions for their requirements. This latest success is another example of that strategy in action, and it will benefit firefighters in the South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and Humberside regions.” Unique layered construction “One of the key factors for us awarding the contract to Ballyclare was the feedback provided by the end-users who participated in the garment tests,” explains Category Manager Mark Lloyd, of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. “Wearers commented that they felt no need to remove their suits as soon as possible in order to cool down, and described the garments as the ‘most comfortable’ and ‘most innovative’ PPE they had ever worn. The level of protection, moisture management, and freedom of movement also drew comments from the test participants.” The new garments feature a unique layered construction which enhances the traditional XENON advantages of outstanding protection, high levels of breathability, and maximum freedom of movement. Outstanding tensile strength The rugged construction of this fabric allows the XENON garments to withstand constant washing cycles The outer layer of the garments is a strong but extremely lightweight fabric which provides excellent protection against heat and flame, and also delivers outstanding tensile strength. It will not become brittle, shrink or break open when exposed to flame or high temperatures, thus ensuring reliable protection for the wearer. Next comes a cutting-edge moisture barrier which has been specified to meet the requirements of this customer. A unique, lightweight 3D construction and a ‘ridged’ profile reduce the amount of contact with the wearer by some 30%. This increases the barrier’s ability to trap air and provide another heat barrier, and also speeds up the transmission of moisture away from the wearer. The rugged construction of this fabric allows the XENON garments to withstand constant washing cycles without compromising on comfort, breathability, or protection. Ensuring maximum comfort Completing the new XENON garments is a thermal layer which also has a 3D construction that traps air to add yet another barrier against heat. This hydrophilic layer also helps transfer moisture away from the wearer and into the moisture barrier, thus allowing the wearer’s skin to breathe more easily and ensuring maximum comfort. After just a few minutes of exposure to ultraviolet light, this tape gives off an intense glow for up to 8 hours The new XENON garments also include the world’s first fire-retardant and fully launderable phosphorescent tape, which significantly increases the visibility of firefighters in dark conditions. After just a few minutes of exposure to ultraviolet light, this tape gives off an intense glow for up to 8 hours, in conditions where there is little or no light, significantly increasing the visibility of the wearer. Specific safety standards “We have worked with our colleagues from across Yorkshire as part of a regional exercise to secure new structural PPE from Ballyclare International,” adds Humberside Fire & Rescue Service Procurement Manager, Dave Lofthouse. “This has helped us all benefit from efficiencies while providing our staff with new PPE that improves their safety and comfort.” As with all Ballyclare firefighter PPE, the new XENON garments are manufactured to exacting national and international safety, performance and quality standards. These include specific safety standards for firefighter clothing EN469 (protective clothing for firefighters. Performance requirements for protective clothing for firefighting activities) and standards not specific to firefighter suits such as EN ISO 13688 (protective clothing - general requirements).

Ballyclare Ltd. Confirms Manufacturing Process Conforms To Article 11B Of New PPE Directive
Ballyclare Ltd. Confirms Manufacturing Process Conforms To Article 11B Of New PPE Directive

Ballyclare is well placed to meet the requirements of the regulatory changes that will come into force in April 2018 Workwear garment manufacturer Ballyclare Limited has confirmed the process used to manufacture life-saving workwear supplied to the fire, rail, general industrial and oil and gas sectors is accredited to Article 11B of the PPE Directive. This ensures Ballyclare is already well placed to meet the requirements of the regulatory changes covering complex PPE garments that will come into force in April next year. New PPE Regulations The regulation changes will require garment manufacturers such as Ballyclare to move from compliance with the current PPE Directive, and satisfy the more stringent requirements of the new and mandatory PPE Regulations. “Essentially, Article 11B is an externally-audited accreditation system which monitors the production of complex, life-saving PPE to ensure the quality of the finished garment,” explains Ballyclare Operations Director, Dawn Scott. “We have held Article 11B accreditation since 2011, and so we’re perfectly placed to satisfy the new regulations, and have been for a considerable time.” Strict quality control “Article 11B provides confidence that products such as our structural firefighter suits and other life-saving garments are produced under our strict quality controls. To achieve compliance, our various manufacturing, design and head office facilities are independently assessed by BSI.” adds Dawn. “These assessments cover many different aspects of our operations, such as the actual manufacturing processes and the quality control measures we use. Fortunately, our existing operating methods mean we’ll easily be able to provide the information required for next year’s assessment. The new regulations will also put a strong emphasis on the technical files which a manufacturer such as ourselves must provide for scrutiny, but we’re proud to say our own technical files already meet the requirements for the forthcoming changes. “We are ahead of the game and fully prepared for the changes in the market. As a result, our customers know they can continue to purchase and use Ballyclare products, safe in the knowledge they are already, and will continue to be, fully compliant.”

Ballyclare Displays New Range Of Pionér And Xenon Fire Garments At A+A 2017
Ballyclare Displays New Range Of Pionér And Xenon Fire Garments At A+A 2017

Ballyclare will display Xenon fire garments range at A+A 2017 Europe’s leading trade exhibition covering safety, security and health at work gave specialist workwear manufacturer Ballyclare an excellent opportunity to highlight the breadth of its offering to these different sectors. At the A + A event in Dusseldorf. the company displayed examples of both its multi-norm and flame-retardant Pionér workwear, and its Xenon multi-layered and multifunctional fire garments, underlining the extensive experience that the company has as a major manufacturer and supplier to these and other workwear markets. New Pionér garments Examples of Ballyclare’s newly extended Pionér range were shown at the exhibition. Specifically designed to provide outstanding protection to those working in dangerous conditions and demanding weather environments, the heat-resistant and flame-retardant garments in the Pionér range include a wide choice of coveralls. cargo trousers, jackets, salopettes and base layer garments. “We have recently added various new items to this range, including multi-norm high visibility jackets and trousers that have already proved to be very popular in other sectors such as the rail industry, plus various new, flame retardant multi-use jacket and trouser options,” says Ballyclare Managing Director, Carlton Greener. Xenon thermal protection Also prominent on the Ballyclare stand was the company’s range of Xenon fire garments which have been developed with a strong focus on health and safety matters. “While the issue of free and easy movement for the wearer was a requirement for the Xenon range, we were primarily concerned to develop garments which provided maximum levels of health and safety protection,” adds Carlton.  The Xenon fire suitcombines all the standard Xenon benefits to createthe ultimate firefighting kit “The Xenon with GORE PARALLON System garments deliver high levels of thermal protection and help to prevent dangerously high body temperatures. Crucially, they also maintain that level of protection when wet. This reduces the likelihood of heat stress and exhaustion that can impact the firefighter’s decision-making process. It also gives firefighters more time to escape from dangerous situations. Once away from the heat sources, Xenon garments also allow the wearer to cool down quickly, making them more comfortable to wear over long periods.” A key feature of the Xenon display was a new concept Xenon fire suit which Ballyclare has developed. It combines all the standard Xenon benefits with new fabric, fastenings and design features to create the ultimate in protective, comfortable and reliable firefighting kit.

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