Wildland fires are perceived as increasing risk in the UK, having been added to the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies in 2012. High risk and difficult to manage, wildland fires create a set of very particular circumstances, meaning that firefighters need flexible kits that will help them do their job whilst tackling these incidents.
Nathan Bricknell, general manager at FlamePro explains the advantages of a specialist wildland fire turnout kit and what other situations can it be used for.
Different kits for wildland fires
By their nature, wildland fires tend to occur in remote areas, meaning firefighters may have to walk a long way from appliances, often carrying hoses and other equipment. Not only this, while the heat from the fire isn’t as ferocious as being in a burning building, it can still be intense. And as wildland fires are often a risk during summer heatwaves, firefighters have to contend with not only heat generated by the fire, but also the ambient air temperature as well.
Firefighters have to contend with not only heat generated by the fire, but also ambient air temperature as well
Additionally, wildland fires can often see more than one fire raging during an incident, creating increased levels of radiant heat, as well as multiple locations in need of response. Of all the types of incidents, wildland fires are the ones that tend to go on the longest.
With this combination of factors, it’s easy to understand why these types of incidents can increase the risk of on-scene firefighters suffering from heat stress.
Type of PPE for wildland fires
Wearing just a t-shirt on a firefighters’ top half leaves the arms exposed to heat and cancer-causing particulates. Meanwhile walking through wildland conditions in structural leggings will likely damage them, and the weight and heat protection a structural suit provides means firefighters wearing something unnecessarily heavy.
Fire services should have a dedicated, lightweight turn-out kit for wildland fires to allow firefighters to cover the distances needed. This type of kit doesn’t necessarily need the heat protection that a standard turn-out kit requires, which provides scope to allow for a single-layer, more highly breathable garment.
Wildland leggings need to have a closure at the bottom to stop sparks, smoke, and debris from going up the legs and exposing firefighters to carbon and particulates on the skin.
Using stand out colors for PPE
The kit ensures firefighters are swiftly identifiable, using colors such as red which will stand out against the landscape
It’s also important that, when operating over large areas and sometimes from multiple brigades, the kit ensures firefighters are swiftly identifiable, using colors such as red which will stand out against the landscape. The most structural kit is now gold, which acts as a camouflage against the moorland landscape. Reflective elements are also helpful as efforts to fight wildland fires can often continue overnight.
Finally, like all professional firefighting kits, garments designed for tackling wildland fires need to have a good range of pockets for storing radios and other essential equipment.
Garments designed for wildland fire response share many of the same qualities needed for rescue suits, meaning some wildland PPE ranges available on the market, including FlamePro, are intended to be multi-purpose. This multifunctional approach saves brigades from having to buy extra firefighting PPE.