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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 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
The global debate on building cladding, which has soared up the international safety agenda in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower disaster which claimed 74 lives and left another 70 injured, arrives in Doha this month. Building cladding is a key feature of the Safety Design in Buildings Conference (SDiB), which runs on 16 October at The Business Park of the Crowne Plaza, Doha. The conference will feature 11 regional and international experts as speakers. Insight On Improved Protection The spread of the June 2017 fire, which arose from a refrigerator electrical fault and ripped through the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, was largely exacerbated by the building’s flammable exterior cladding. The annual SDiB campaign is a GCC-wide initiative to debate safety standards and practices “In a region dominated by high rise structures, it’s not surprising that the local industry is keen to learn lessons from Grenfell,” said Andreas Rex, show director for Intersec, the world’s pioneer trade fair for Security, Safety & Fire Protection which is SDiB’s Founding Sponsor. The annual SDiB campaign is a GCC-wide initiative to debate safety standards and practices in the built environment. “Like Intersec, SDiB is essential for sharing insight on improved protection of people and assets in the Gulf.” Examine Retrofitting For Fire Safety The SDiB Doha conference will bring leading fire safety consultants, architects, engineers and testing experts together with safety systems suppliers to explore industry standards updates and debate best practice solutions. The agenda will examine retrofitting for fire safety, how to best involve design teams to mitigate fire safety risks, façade fire compartmentation and how mega infrastructure projects can meet international safety standards. Achieving Safety Compliance On Existing Buildings Sreenivas Narayanan, General Manager – Middle East and Asia Pacific of the UK’s Siderise Insulation Limited will outline strategies for achieving safety compliance on existing buildings. His presentation will discuss the need for safety compliance on existing structures and buildings which have been in use for some time. Fire and life safety systems are commonly engineered and designed based on the operational effectiveness" “The issues surrounding the cladding on a project has been a key discussion globally,” he explained. “It's important for all stakeholders involved in a project to understand what the requirements are and how to overcome the challenges. The global façade industry is keen to incorporate the best practice and I would be sharing from my recent interactions to support the local market.” Abilities To Maintain And Commission Fire Cristina Perez Domper, Regional Operations Manager – Product Testing and Certification Building & Construction of Britain’s Intertek will further the debate abilities to maintain and commission fire and life safety systems in high rise tower clusters – capabilities which she asserts are all too often neglected. “Fire and life safety systems are commonly engineered and designed based on the operational effectiveness,” she explains. “What is equally important but often overlooked is the ease of maintenance, testing and even commissioning. A fire safety system that cannot be, or is difficult to maintain or to test, will result in it not being tested or maintained which in turn will lead to it not working properly.” Maintenance And Testing Domper says preventative action is key to a comprehensive fire safety strategy through a building’s lifespan. “According to the National Fire Protection Association statistics, nearly 30% of fires in non-sprinkled facilities spread beyond the room of origin. To minimize this, preventative action must be taken to reduce the effects of fire on a facility, business continuity and life safety,” she advises. Fire safety installation that can’t be maintained will eventually end up in non-working fire safety systems" But Peter Van Gorp, Director of Fire and Life Safety of the USA’s AESG says lessons have been learnt and are being incorporated into new builds, though more attention needs to be placed on maintenance and testing. Maintainability Aspect Of Fire Safety Systems “While I used to see blatant mistakes in fire safety system design related issues in the past, I don’t see those that often anymore in newly constructed buildings. What I do still see is mistakes with regard to ease of maintenance and ease of testing. “These aspects are not only overlooked but often completely ignored. Fire safety installation that can’t be tested or maintained or are difficult to test or maintain will eventually end up in non-working fire safety systems like any other installation or system,” he warns. “I hope that my presentation will move authorities, designers, contractors and anybody else involved to give the maintainability aspect of fire safety systems the attention it deserves.” Protecting Major Events Through Stadium Security The presentation will highlight the key requirements for delivering a safe, and secure stadia" Safety for mega projects and events is also on the Doha agenda, which is essential to Qatar as it gears up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and has huge major event ambitions. Andrew Cooke, Director Security Operations of Doha-based International Centre for Sport Security will outline ways of protecting major events through stadium security design, which he says, has significant bottom-line implications. “By integrating security right from the beginning of the design phase for venues, organizers can make significant savings by identifying potential threats at an early stage in the process and thus preventing expensive rework, delays, penalties and incorrect use of resources and materials later. The presentation will highlight the key requirements for delivering a safe, and secure stadia.” Testing All Components Of A Fire Strategy Having gained extensive experience within the fire sector and witnessing devastating effects of fire first-hand, Peter Stephenson, Business Development Manager at Warringtonfire emphasizes the importance of sharing lessons learnt to mitigate fire hazards. Validating and testing all components of a fire strategy is vital to ensure the safety of all persons" As building assurance is extremely important, Stephenson highlighted Warringtonfire’s involvement in Doha Metro, one of the key infrastructure projects linked to the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted in Qatar “Validating and testing all components of a fire strategy is vital to ensure the safety of all persons using or working on the infrastructure.” Tests, Inspections, Certifications “SDiB provides a platform to bring industry professionals together to learn and share experiences which ultimately enhance fire safety within the region. At Warringtonfire, we value the safety and wellbeing of our employees and consider it a top priority. This belief is reflected in our tests, inspections, certifications and consultancy services,” added Stephenson. “The key take-away at SDiB is the importance of building assurance, emphasizing that Warringtonfire, with its depth of experience and industry experts, is the first choice as a trusted partner for all fire and life safety requirements.” Digital ‘Passive’ Fire Protection Delegates will also hear how digital tools can now automate fire safety. David Black, Director, Middle East Operations of the GCC’s Joule Group says despite laws and regulations, human error remains a daily risk because ‘passive assets’ - non-digital fire systems - are not prioritized. The emergence of passive protection is one factor behind the expansion of the show’s Fire and Rescue section" “We need to have more transparency on how passive fire assets are managed and checked building to building. This can be achieved through the use of digital platforms,” he said. Digital ‘passive’ fire protection is also high on the agenda for Intersec, which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 19-21 January. Intersec’s Growing Sections “The emergence of passive protection is one factor behind the expansion of the show’s Fire and Rescue section, which is now one of Intersec’s fastest growing sections with more than 450 exhibitors and includes industry leaders such as NAFFCO, Honeywell, Komtes, Hochiki, Draeger, ATEIS, and Thomas Bell-Wright International,” explained Rex. “Additionally, the show will feature a Safety Design in Buildings Pavilion dedicated to Fire Safety in the building materials industry.” The next SDiB conference will run in Abu Dhabi on December 12th.
A team of West Midlands Fire Service firefighters have been crowned national champs in the use of breathing apparatus. Top honors went to Hay Mills Blue Watch at the 2018 National BA Challenge at the Fire Service College in Gloucestershire. Colleagues from Highgate Blue Watch also achieved fourth place overall, in a total field of 28. The event attracted teams of five firefighters from across the UK. Each was faced with the scenario of a property fire in which people were believed trapped. They had 30 minutes to tackle the fire and rescue any casualties. Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service Chief Fire Officer, said: “I‘d like to congratulate all involved on such a fantastic achievement. Through regular training and simulations, our crews ensure they are fully prepared to respond to any scenario to keep their communities safe. These results highlight their ongoing commitment to operational excellence.” fire and rescue services Highgate Community Fire Station came second in the BA Team category, represented by Ian Wroe and Mark Cope Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Many congratulations to our Hay Mills firefighter team who scooped this award. These are the skills that keep our West Midlands communities safe around the clock, every day of the year.” The event, sponsored by Draeger UK and The Fire Fighters Charity, promotes best practice and firefighter safety in the disciplines of incident command, procedures at the scene of a fire, entry control and the wearing of BA. Teams were scrutinized by specialist national assessors from the UK fire and rescue services, with Hay Mills Blue Watch achieving: Best BA team: Terry Falaschi and Steve Gibson Best Entry Control Officer: Sue Clarke Best Fire Ground Officer: Jason Plant Officer in charge, 3rd place: James Davis Firefighters from Highgate Community Fire Station in Birmingham also came second in the BA Team category, represented by Ian Wroe and Mark Cope.
The fire escape hood Parat 5500 protects the user against fire gases, vapours and particles with a CO P2 filter The fire escape hood Parat 5500 is now available in a flame-retardant holster constructed from aramid material as the variant PARAT 5550. The holster, which was specially developed for fire rescue teams, in combination with the fire escape hood is system approved together with the Dräger breathing apparatus according to EN 137:2006, Type 2. The holster can be attached to the Dräger breathing apparatus using the integrated belt strap with emergency release, or with approved accessories like the shoulder harness or carabiner hook. This means that it does not restrict the freedom of movement of rescue workers, but is always close at hand. Additional accessory pockets can be ordered separately. Protection against fire gases, vapours The fire escape hood Parat 5500 protects the user against fire gases, vapours and particles with a CO P2 filter. It is approved in accordance with EN 403:2004 for fire escape hoods and also tested for use against H2S (at a concentration of 2,500 ppm) according to DIN 58647-7. Parat 5500 is also available in a Single Pack (5510), Soft Pack (5520), and Hard Case (5530). Easy to use with 8-year service life time The wearer opens the holster, removes the foil pouch and helps the person being rescued to don it. The pouch is easy to open even when wearing gloves. A clearly visible pictogram illustrates the donning procedure. The fire escape hood has an eight-year service life time. The expiry date is visible from the outside of the foil pouch. Due to filter plugs, the product can still be used in the event the foil pouch is punctured.