3M Scotchlite FIREFIGHTER UNIFORM ACCESSORIES(5)
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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.
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
The Ethisphere Institute recognized 3M for ethics and integrity in business conduct and compliance for the seventh straight year. 3M is one of only eight industrial companies worldwide to be honored this year. Ethics And Values Recognizing that corporate integrity, character and transparency impact the public trust of companies, the Ethisphere Institute defines and advances standards of ethical business practices through data-driven insights. “For more than a century, we have built a foundation of trust and unwavering integrity in all that we do,” said Michael Duran, 3M vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer. “Our success as a company depends on all of us to make the right decisions every day. This recognition is a collective effort by our 96,000 employees around the world. Our ethics and values are what make 3M a great place to work.” Code of Conduct 3M’s Code of Conduct is part of 3M’s values and is viewed as a competitive advantage. It is an integral factor in 3M’s high reputation among consumers and across many industries. 3M leaders create and promote a workplace environment where compliance and ethical business conduct are expected and encouraged through leading by example. 3M is one of only 132 companies around the world designated as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2020. Ethisphere evaluates companies in five categories: ethics and compliance program, culture of ethics, corporate citizenship and responsibility, governance, and leadership and reputation.
Foam is the most effective agent for fighting numerous fires. But as firefighters know, foam is more than just foam. The Hamburg-based company Sthamer has almost 100 years of experience with fire-extinguishing foam. A while back, fluorinated foam was considered the most effective means of putting out oil and fuel fires. But research at the turn of the millennium produced new findings and, with the general growth of environmental awareness, fluorinated foam came under increased scrutiny. According to scientists, poly- and perfluorinated compounds are difficult or impossible to break down. For the manufacturers of extinguishing agents like these, developing alternative solutions became a new yet simultaneously familiar challenge. The Hamburg-based "Chemical Preparations Factory from Dr. Richard Sthamer" can look back on almost 100 years of experience in researching, developing and producing foam-based extinguishers. protein foaming agents The company will be represented in Hall 13 (stand A28) at INTERSCHUTZ 2020 The company was originally founded in 1886 by the chemist of the same name to manufacture chemical and pharmaceutical products. Today it is managed in the fourth generation by Oswald Sthamer and Ingeborg Grabow. The company will be represented in Hall 13 (stand A28) at INTERSCHUTZ 2020. "The history of fire extinguishing foam production began in the 1930s, with protein foaming agents made from protein carriers produced from animal hooves and horns," reports Oswald Sthamer. "This was also our entry into the production sector, where we by now have attained global significance. Foam-based extinguishers have been our main line of business ever since." A3F foaming agent Back then, fluorine was far from being a topic of discussion. "They didn't know the impact at that time at all," says the current CEO. This did not change until the 1960s, when the American company 3M became the first manufacturer to develop an A3F foaming agent. "So now it’s something like 'back to the roots'." Even if the efficacy of using aqueous film-forming, so-called AFFF or A3, extinguishing agents (AFFF stands for Aqueous Film Forming Foam) is still undisputed, the use of new biodegradable raw materials is now being vigorously pursued. "Sometimes you have to make compromises," says Oswald Sthamer. "An A3F foaming agent was and is practically an all-rounder. But legislation is moving towards a complete phase-out of the technology in the 2020s. This is also the German Environment Agency’s plan." fire extinguishing foam We plan to present a new product range of fully biodegradable, high-performance fire extinguishing foam" Accordingly, providers are intensively seeking alternatives for large, high-risk industrial fires. "All of our company's products are developed in the company’s own laboratory using state-of-the-art analysis and developed until they are ready for production," says the company founder’s great grandson. "By intensively paying attention to the market, we implement the demand for new or modified products in the shortest possible time in constant dialog our customers and suppliers, as well as with research institutes." At INTERSCHUTZ, the company will be providing an overview of its latest developments. "Among other things, we plan to present a new product range of fully biodegradable, high-performance fire extinguishing foam. This includes both alcohol-resistant and non-alcohol-resistant products," explains Oswald Sthamer. alcohol-resistant foaming agents "We’ll be presenting both protein and synthetic foaming agents. We’ll also be showing special extinguishing agents, for example for grease fires and extinguishing agents for the fire extinguisher industry as well as for special extinguishing systems." The roughly 50 Sthamer employees benefit from the company’s many years of expertise while performing their jobs in the Billbrook district of Hamburg, located amid rivers and canals just a stone’s throw away from the mighty Elbe. "Whether you’re talking about multi-grade foaming agents, which originated in the 1950s, or synthetically based, alcohol-resistant foaming agents – we already patented this stuff back in the mid-1950s," explains the company boss. foam-based extinguishing agents But the company continues to stay on the ball: In 2016, Sthamer became the world’s first manufacturer to receive approval for its foam-based extinguishing agents from VdS – the umbrella organization of the German insurance industry. VdS approval meets particularly high quality standards and is required by many insurance companies in order to insure stationary fire extinguishing systems.
It is now widely recognized that regular cleaning of PPE is important and helps reduce firefighters’ long-term exposure to harmful contamination. However, it’s not always possible to use off-site cleaning services for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Most firefighters share SCBA and often this vital equipment needs to be kept onsite in case of a major incident. This is where the Solo Rescue decontamination machine comes in. stainless-steel machines Bristol Uniforms is the UK distributor for Solo Rescue. It can be installed in the fire station and cleans SCBA in a self-contained, sealed compartment which minimizes manual contact with contaminated material. SCBA can be cleaned immediately on return to the fire station, with the machine successfully removing residues of combustion gases, soot particles and toxins in just a few minutes. It fits in a compact space of less than 1m2. The durable stainless-steel machines have a swift cleaning cycle, meaning that up to 14 sets of SCBA can be decontaminated in just one hour, considerably improving the speed and efficiency of the cleaning process. Solo Rescue decontamination machines can also be used to clean helmets. They are simple to operate, require minimal servicing, and conform to the cleaning requirements of top SCBA brands including Dräger, MSA, Interspiro and SCOTT.