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Derbyshire Fire & Rescue firefighters praise Bristol firefighter clothing in flashover incident

Published on 6 April 2011
Briston personal protective equipment (PPE) jacket incorporating a Grey/Red Hainsworth®TITAN outershell with a Gore Crosstech Airlock® moisture barrier and Nomex® Delta C lining

Examination of fire kit shows only superficial discoloration and damage to areas of the coat and trousers exposed

Neither firefighter was seriously injured in the incident. Each has praised the level of protection provided by their PPE.

Two Derbyshire Fire & Rescue firefighters called to a house fire in Somercotes were engulfed in a flashover, believed to have been caused by an exploding aerosol. One was thrown to the floor in the blast, on the first floor of the property, and partially covered by a bedroom door as he lay face down whilst the other, holding the hose reel jet, was able to turn it on. Whilst the flames disappeared, he remained briefly on fire. Neither firefighter was seriously injured in the incident. Each has praised the level of protection provided by their PPE.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue re-equipped its 800 firefighters in 2008 with new Bristol PPE incorporating a Grey/Red Hainsworth®TITAN outershell with a Gore Crosstech Airlock® moisture barrier and Nomex® Delta C lining. At the time, Derbyshire explained that they had chosen the Hainsworth® TITAN outershell as it offered Nomex® on the face to provide optimal thermal protection, abrasion resistance and colour fastness, with the high strength of KEVLAR® protected on the back away from the effects of abrasion and UV degradation - the two layers designed to work together to maximise comfort, breathability, thermal protection and wear life.

In this incident, which recreated conditions similar to those experienced in a manikin fire test, the firefighters reported experiencing a feeling of warmth on their arms when their fire coat was on fire but suffered no burns. Apart from minor blistering to parts of their faces, the only other minor injury was to the firefighter blown to the floor who suffered a small patch of blisters at the top of the hip where the blast had lifted the bottom of his fire coat to leave the area above his trouser waist slightly exposed.

“The firefighters involved were very complimentary about the level of protection their fire kit provided"

Examination of the fire kit (see enclosed pictures) shows only superficial discoloration and damage to areas of the coat and trousers exposed directly to the flashover blast. Derbyshire FRS believes this incident, although rare, provides ample evidence in support of their decision to use Bristol’s Hainsworth® TITAN/Gore Crosstech Airlock® combination for optimum personal protection.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Services Group Manager, Alex Johnson, who carried out the accident investigation said, “The firefighters involved were very complimentary about the level of protection their fire kit provided. This incident had the potential for a more serious outcome and the firefighters feel that their new fire kit prevented more serious injuries being sustained.”

Philip Tasker, Bristol’s National Sales Manager, added, “It is, fortunately, unusual for firefighters to be caught in flashover situations such as this, and it is reassuring for all concerned in the design, manufacture and use of these protective garments that they do perform so well under operational conditions. This is what we, and our fabric suppliers, work hard to achieve in designing, and thoroughly testing, composite materials to ensure adequate protection for the firefighter in a wide range of operational scenarios.”

Charlotte Brandt, Hainsworth’s Sales Manager - Technical & Industrial Textiles, said, “‘Hainsworth® TITAN is designed to offer maximum breathability and comfort for day to day wear, without compromising protection should the worst happen and a fire-fighter gets caught in a ‘flash-over’. It makes us proud to receive feedback like this, as we are confident Derbyshire’s choice of PPE through Bristol Uniforms was the right technical decision to procure the best combination of comfort, heat stress management and thermal protection currently available on the market.”

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