Wildland fires are an increasing threat in the United Kingdom. They’re high risk, difficult to manage, and create a set of very particular circumstances for firefighters, who are battling the blaze. And with wildland call-outs measured in days, rather than hours, fire services need a kit that’s as tough as the terrain that they’re working on. Defender wildland firefighting suit FlamePro, a British manufacturing specialist of life-saving garments for firefighters, has unveiled a new wildland firefighting suit, challenging the industry by setting a new benchmark for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The ‘Defender’ wildland suit features military-grade FR plastic hardware. It passes a heat resistance of 260 °C, even after 40 wash and dry cycles, meeting the high demands of the latest wildland standard. Superior comfort and with glow-in-the-dark tape The suit encompasses strategic paneling, which is shaped to offer easy movement for wearers Comfort and ergonomics are at the forefront of the design. The suit encompasses strategic paneling, which is shaped to offer easy movement for wearers. The precise location of the paneling also improves the breathability of the suit. This provides the much-needed airflow, so as to reduce the risk of heat stress, which the extreme conditions of wildland firefighting pose. The Defender suit also features photo-luminescent, glow-in-the-dark tape for operational effectiveness. These strips aid the location of colleagues in near, or even total, darkness. They’re visible even when you can’t see your hand in front of your face. featuring shoulder reinforcement and 3D padding Lugging heavy equipment into remote areas of land is part and parcel of wildland firefighting. Therefore, the Defender suit is equipped with shoulder reinforcement and 3D padding over the main fabric, providing added comfort for firefighters wearing a bulky backpack. The suit also includes ergonomically shaped knee panels, with reinforced fabric, to protect firefighters against thorns, gorse, and other annoying hazards that lurk in the undergrowth. Enhanced Versatility Available in red or yellow, the new Defender suit will also fit any body type, available in an industry-renowned range of 96 sizes and fits. FlamePro’s Technical Sales Manager, Reece Buchner, said “By their nature, wildland fires create a set of very particular circumstances. The remote location, the intense heat and the long duration of these emergencies, all combine to create extreme and high-risk incidents. This means that firefighters need unique protection.” Reece Buchner adds, “The only PPE that will suffice is that, which has been designed specially to protect against every one of the risks that wildland firefighting poses. Our Defender suit does just this. We’re not interested in just meeting standards, we aim to be setting them. Our military-grade materials, teamed with ergonomic design, offer the ultimate combination of protection and comfort.”
Cancer is a hidden killer amongst the force. In fact, firefighters have a 68% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general population! Why? It’s simple, exposure to cancer-causing particles is high. But, this hidden killer can be stopped in its tracks, with careful PPE inspection and maintenance. Here, Reece Buchner, Technical Sales Manager at FlamePro, a British specialist manufacturer of life-saving garments for firefighters, explains how to maintain and inspect the kit. Specialist cleaning services While previous generations would have worn scorch marks and dirt as a badge of honor, firefighters know different. A fire suit is only as good as its weakest seam, and therefore kit needs to be checked A clean kit is a safe kit, so it’s essential that brigades utilize specialist cleaning services, ensuring that kits are correctly washed and cared for after every single use. Regular inspections of fire kits are just as important as laundering. A fire suit is only as good as its weakest seam, and therefore kit needs to be checked that it is fit for purpose before every use. Withstanding blunt pressure Here are five steps that will help preserve the life of the kit: Back to basics - It sounds simple, but check the surface of the fabric first and foremost. One should be looking for holes, rips, tears, and scuffs - even just the smallest rip or graze can impact on a kit’s protection. This should be conducted both prior to using the kit and after each shift. Now you see me - Whether called out to a rescue in dark and hazardous conditions, battling through thick plumes of smoke, or attending a road incident amidst live traffic, being easily seen is vital to ensuring safety on the job. A kit with good visibility enhances not only one’s own safety, but also that of the team. A torch test will check the reflective surfaces of a fire suit. Shine a torch over reflective surfaces to make sure they remain reflective. This also applies to non-fire kits, such as a rescue-wear set. Wet, wet, wet - Maintaining water repellence is crucial. Not only does it allow for more effective and comfortable working, it ensures that harmful chemicals and particulates are not able to infiltrate through the material. And it’s incredibly easy to check if a suit is still water tight - simply spray it with water. If the water pools in droplets on the surface, the durable water repellent (DWR) layer is working effectively. But if it soaks into the fabric, the DWR has failed and the garment needs re-treating. Safely sealed - Even the smallest amount of damage to a suit can compromise its ability to protect. And this includes fastenings, seals, zips, and poppers. These seals provide an important line of defense for firefighters – they ensure full body protection in extreme heat, and are designed to ensure corrosive liquids, carcinogenic particles, and other harmful substances can’t infiltrate the kit. Stress test - UV exposure can gradually wear fabric. This won’t be immediately visible, but tired fabric whilst on a job will soon become apparent. Make sure to stress test the fabric and ensure it can withstand blunt pressure. Do this by pushing a blunt object against the fabric. The object shouldn’t go through, but if it does, it’s a good indicator of UV damage. Check the Velcro - If one has been in a grassy environment, the Velcro can easily become matted and fail to close properly. This compromises protection against particulates. It is also paramount that zips and other fasteners are checked and ensured that they are closing properly. No matter how well one maintains the kit, there will always come a time when it will need replacing. So, it’s important to know when this time comes. Replacing the kit at the right time keeps the team safe and comfortable, no matter what the call-out is for.
FlamePro, a British manufacturing specialist of life-saving garments for firefighters, launches a national survey in a bid to uncover the key issues that firefighters are currently facing. The anonymous research will provide a rare opportunity to gain insight into the minds and experiences of frontline firefighters. It’s hoped the project will help shape the future of the industry and ensure the safety of firefighters across the country. Key industry professionals The survey is designed to increase transparency across the firefighting industry, by providing an authentic, undisputed viewpoint into the sentiment of firefighters on the ground. The survey is designed to increase transparency across the firefighting industry The findings of the survey will be released and distributed amongst key industry professionals as a full written report, to help further drive innovation across the sector. Reece Buchner, Technical Sales Manager at FlamePro, said: “The purpose of this survey is simple. We want to better understand how we can support the industry by speaking to those that have their boots on the ground.” Experiencing rapid change “Even when you take into consideration just the past 12 months – the role of the firefighter has changed drastically as a result of the pandemic. Yet, for an industry experiencing such rapid change, we worry that modernization within the sector is falling behind.” “We want to use this research as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on industry change, and help to support innovation from the ground upwards – something we know there is an appetite for at all levels.” Firefighters from across the UK are encouraged to take part and share their experiences in a bid to futureproof safety across the industry.
FlamePro, a British manufacturing specialist of life-saving garments for firefighters, announces the launch of a first-of-its-kind fire kit, having worked with its suppliers to bring new, innovative technologies to the market. The new valiant structural fire suit represents a significant step forward in firefighter protection, utilizing brand new developments in fabrics, membranes, and components. This includes a new fabric assembly, which incorporates an integrated 3D woven structure and state-of-the-art membrane, to provide exceptional breathability, moisture transportation, and thermal performance. Better thermal performance As well as giving brigades the choice of five outer fabrics, the valiant suit is available with new moisture barrier innovations, resulting in a membrane that is the same weight as traditional structures, yet offers increased breathability, moisture management, and high-temperature wash durability, as well as delivering better thermal performance against radiant heat. Another innovation in the valiant suit is a 3D woven thermal lining layer, which offers breathability Another innovation in the valiant suit is a 3D woven thermal lining layer, which offers breathability, as well as excellent moisture transportation and thermal performance. When these technologies are combined, the full assembly offers a garment that has been shown to be one of the most effective at transporting moisture away from the firefighter, which helps to keep them cool and prevent any trapped moisture from conducting heat and causing potential burns. Offering additional benefits Wearer trials of this garment system have shown it performs better than conventional and dual systems in scenarios such as climbing ladders, hot house trials, and crawling through enclosed spaces. Both the jacket and trousers of the valiant suit feature ergonomic shaped paneling, which is designed to maximize ease of movement and comfort for the firefighter. The new fabric system also offers additional benefits including lack of perceived bulk and quick drying. The jacket and trousers have both been designed down to the smallest details to ensure they are better and more comfortable to work in and to provide the firefighter with the features they need to do their demanding job. Cutting-Edge technologies The new garments are also the first on the UK market to include luminous tapes as standard The new garments are also the first on the UK market to include luminous tapes as standard, in addition to reflective tapes. These glow-in-the-dark, phosphorescent strips aid location of colleagues in near, or even total, darkness. Commenting on the launch of the new fire kit, FlamePro’s technical sales manager, Reece Buchner, said: “This new fire kit is a real game-changer in the firefighting industry. We’ve been working with our suppliers for many months to develop these cutting-edge technologies – the likes of which have never been seen before.” Protecting frontline workers “Our new material assembly is truly unique – both the 3D woven structure, as well as the new moisture barrier membrane are very much a first for the industry, and demonstrate a major leap forward in PPE options for firefighters.” “As well as protecting frontline workers from the dangers of extreme heat and flames, making sure PPE is a comfortable fit is a top priority for us. With these new technologies that we’ve developed, and our brand-new designs, we know we are setting a new benchmark for structural suits across the whole industry.”
A firefighter needs to evaporate about 1 liter of sweat per hour to be able to regulate the body temperature when exposed to extreme heat. The human body is designed to function within a very specific temperature range between 36.5 and 37.5 Celsius. However, fighting fires test these limits and can increase a firefighter’s body temperature to over 38 degrees. Selection Of PPE While there are many factors to consider to reduce the impact of heat stress on firefighters – such as hydration and heat acclimatization – a major component of heat stress control is the selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Here, Reece Buchner, technical sales manager at FlamePro, a British specialist manufacturer of life-saving garments for firefighters, explains what to look for when specifying PPE, to reduce heat stress while fighting fires. Insulation – Friend Or Foe Insulation is an important part of any firefighter kit, as it keeps the extreme heat away from the wearer, however, it also keeps the body heat in. People are aware that sweating is the best way for one's bodies to regulate the temperature, however for sweating to be effective, the air should be dry and moving, like when it’s windy. When it’s humid, there is less capacity within the air for vapor to leave the body and that makes sweating less effective. An enclosed and insulated fire suit without airflow may therefore not promote the ideal perspiration environment. Moisture Barriers Moisture barrier regulates body heat as it allows as much moisture vapor out as possible Moisture barriers play a crucial role in reducing the chance of heat stress. A moisture barrier is a type of material that lets vapor through and in some cases liquid (unidirectionally), making a suit breathable. When it comes to fire suits, this moisture barrier plays an important role in regulating body heat as it allows as much moisture vapor out as possible. Types of Barriers There are three types of moisture barrier product technology used in firefighters’ protective garments: microporous, monolithic, or bi-component. Each of these barrier technologies has a different level of effectiveness: A microporous membrane contains small passages or holes, which allows for air permeability and offers water vapor transfer by air-diffusion. A monolithic membrane is a continuous polymer layer without any passages (holes), and, therefore, does not have any air permeability. However, breathable monolithic moisture barriers use hydrophilic polymers which allow water vapor transfer through molecular diffusion instead. A bi-component moisture barrier product uses a combination of microporous and monolithic technologies and allows no air permeability. Ensure Mobility It’s important that fire suits are designed to be wearer friendly, whilst providing optimum protection. When selecting PPE consider how easy the suits are to move in, and bear in mind the different requirements of the team depending on the job at hand. PPE that is designed to provide increased mobility helps to reduce muscular strain, improves air circulation, and in turn heat stress. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing the risk of heat stress amongst the fire brigade, these are all important factors to consider to ensure the team’s PPE is working to minimize the danger.
The dangers of cancer-causing particulates have never been in sharper focus in firefighting than they are today. Indeed, firefighters are becoming more aware of the risks associated with their job and exposure to carcinogens. But are all firefighters aware of the different measures that should be taken to reduce their contact with particulates? Reece Buchner, Technical Sales Manager at FlamePro, a British specialist manufacturer of life-saving garments for firefighters, explains five steps that can help to reduce exposure to harmful residuum. Research by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) suggests that fire contaminants on UK firefighters’ personal protective equipment (PPE) might have a link to higher cancer occurrences. PPE garments technology New garment technology such as Nomex Nano Flex tackles the risks caused by cancer-causing particulates Therefore, it’s crucial that firefighters are equipped with top-of-the-range PPE garments, and in particular fire hoods, that have been specifically designed to prevent these particulates from penetrating through the material and coming into contact with a firefighter’s skin. New garment technology such as Nomex Nano Flex tackles the risks caused by cancer-causing particulates and averages 95%-98% particulate filtration, which actually improves with repeated washes. Currently, skin absorption is thought to be the main exposure route. In fact, firefighters are at greatest risk of contamination after an incident - contaminants can come into contact with the skin or be inhaled as PPE and kit is removed. Firefighters need to be practised at personal decontamination immediately after leaving a hazardous area by removing PPE safely avoiding contact with exposed skin and even making sure they avoid putting their gloves in their helmet. smoky fire suit They should also take time to cleanse the most vulnerable areas of the skin - the hands, face, neck and throat. Traditionally, a smoky fire suit was a badge of honor for firefighters. However, with knowledge levels around harmful particulates ever increasing, so too is the understanding that garments must be frequently washed to reduce risk. Fire suits need to be properly laundered to ensure they are cleaned of any harmful substances, such as particulates, chemicals and asbestos. Contracting a regular cleaning service with an industrial laundry, either directly or through the customer’s PPE supplier, can ensure the team’s garments are cleaned in a safe and effective manner. It’s essential that PPE is inspected on a regular basis to look for any signs of wear and tear, or if it needs professionally cleaning. Fire suits should be checked for stains, damage to the fabric or seams, or unclear labeling, at the beginning of a firefighter’s shift and after heading out to any incident. professional repair services BS 8617 was published in October 2019 and gives very practical advice on particulate protection working practices If the brigade is arranging its own professional laundry services directly, it’s also important that the laundrette checks the garments during the cleaning process. A firefighting suit is only as strong as its weakest seam. These suits are made up of many layers and components, and if just one aspect of the suit becomes damaged, it can compromise the protection offered by the garment. PPE suppliers will often offer a care and maintenance package for firefighting PPE, to provide professional repair services in a quick and easy manner for busy brigades. BS 8617 was published in October 2019 and gives very practical advice on particulate protection working practices. For more information on firefighting PPE or how to optimize their customer’s protection against harmful particulates, visit the company’s official website. particulate protection The company understands that particulate protection is a very wide subject, in this article they are simply suggesting five practical things that can be done. The list is not exhaustive.
The letters ‘FR’ have many meanings, including flame resistant, flame retardant, fire resistant and fire retardant, but is there a difference? And which FR is the right FR for a particular firefighters and rescue team? The truth is, these terms are used interchangeably and there is no clear standard or definition that backs up any of these phrases. What matters when looking to choose the right FR protection for the team is understanding and specifying garments that meet the right FR and/or related standards. To help, Reece Buchner, Technical Sales Manager at FlamePro, a British specialist manufacturer of firefighter and other life-saving FR garments, explains some of the standards and regulations that a fire and rescue service needs to be aware of when deciding on the right PPE for their team. EN ISO 14116 - Protection against flame and clothing This standard applies to garments that protect against occasional and brief contact with small igniting flames, in circumstances where there is no significant heat hazard. Clothing manufactured to this standard is made from flame retardant materials so that if the material comes into contact with a flame, it will only continue to burn for a limited amount of time. After removal from the flame, the material will stop burning. Any garments that are compliant with this standard are given a limited flame spread index of 1, 2 or 3 Therefore, clothing in this category should not be worn to protect against convective heat, radiant heat and molten metal or similar higher risk hazards. Any garments that are compliant with this standard are given a limited flame spread index of 1, 2 or 3, in which index 3 is highest and provides the most protection. If the index is 1 (the lowest level), then the garment may not have skin contact (such as the neck or wrists), and can only be used outside a garment with an index 2 or 3 rating. EN ISO 11612 - Clothing to protect against heat and flame This standard is similar to 14116 above, however it offers a higher level of protection for wearers by ensuring protection against risks such as molten metal. The performance requirements set out in ISO 11612:2015 are applicable to protective clothing for a wide range uses, where there is a need for clothing with limited flame spread properties and where the user can be exposed to radiant, convective, contact heat or to molten metal splashes. It’s also worth noting that this standard has replaced the previous EN 531. EN 469:2005 – Protective clothing for firefighters EN 469:2005 provides the minimum requirements for protective firefighter garments, whilst fighting fires and any associated activities such as rescue work. The standard mainly covers how well the PPE can limit the spread of flames on both the outer shell and internal lining as well as its resistance to the penetration of heat from flames (or a radiant source) through all layers of the component material. There are two levels of the standard (1 and 2), with level 1 indicating the lower level of protection. ISO 18639 – PPE ensembles for firefighters ISO 18639 is specific to firefighters and does not cover PPE used to protect against chemical hazards The ISO 18639 series of standards specify requirements of PPE specifically designed to protect firefighters from injury and/or loss of life, while engaged in specific rescue activities. ISO 18639 is specific to firefighters and does not cover PPE used to protect against chemical and biological hazards, except against short term and accidental exposures while engaged in rescue activities. Because this standard covers so much, it is split into several sections, each covering the specific requirements for different firefighter PPE garments: ISO 18639 – 1 – General overarching guidelines ISO 18639 – 3 – Specifies test methods ISO 18639 – 4 - Gloves ISO 18639 – 5 - Helmet ISO 18639 – 6 – Footwear EN 1149-5 – Protective clothing with electrostatic properties This standard applies to garments worn by operatives who encounter risks of explosion (ATEX Environments), such as in petrochemical refineries and fuel distribution companies. The standard ensures any garments provide the wearer with electrostatic dissipative clothing with reduced risk of sparking – the outer fabrics of these garments are made from antistatic materials and components. The garment should be used as part of a total earthed system to avoid combustible discharges. The outer fabric of the garment must be anti-static (AST) and also has to cover all the other non-AST layers permanently. EN ISO 11611:2015 – Protective clothing for use in welding Class 1 protects against less hazardous welding techniques and situations As the name of this standard suggests, this standard is important to consider when specifying PPE for any workers that are to carry out welding, and other allied processes with comparable risks. This standard ensures garments provide protection against small splashes of molten metal, and brief contact with flame, only when a worker is undertaking welding or similar processes. Under this standard, garments are categorised into one of two classes. Class 1 protects against less hazardous welding techniques and situations, which cause lower spatter and radiant heat, whereas Class 2 protects against riskier welding techniques and situations, which causes higher levels of spatter and radiant heat. EN 15090 – Footwear for firefighters This standard specifies minimum requirements and test methods for the performance of three types of footwear for firefighters: General-purpose rescue (F1), fire rescue (F2) and hazardous materials emergencies (F3). The requirements for each category differ from each other, so it’s important to know the difference, when looking to purchase footwear. The key difference between this standard and the previously mentioned ISO 18639-6 is that ISO 18639-6 does not cover special footwear for use in other high-risk situations such as structural firefighting. General-purpose rescue footwear (F1) Footwear that is classed as type 1 (F1) is suitable for general-purpose rescue, fire suppression, and firefighting suppression involving a fire in vegetative fuels such as forests, crops, grass, and farmland. These garments are not required to protect against penetration, offer toe protection, or protect against chemical hazards, however these properties are optional. Fire rescue footwear (F2) Type 2 (F2) footwear is suitable for fire rescue, fire suppression, and property conservation in buildings, enclosed structures, vehicles, vessels, or similar properties that are involved in a fire or emergency situation. This footwear provides toe protection and protection against penetration, however it does not protect against chemical hazards. Hazardous materials emergencies footwear (F3) Type 3 footwear provides toe protection, protection against penetration and protection against chemical hazards Type 3 (F3) footwear applies for emergencies involving hazardous materials, the release or potential release of hazardous chemicals that can cause loss of life, injury, or damage to property and the environment. This category of footwear is also suitable also for fire rescue, fire suppression, and property conservation in aircraft, buildings, enclosed structures, vehicles, vessels, or similar properties, as well as all fire suppression and rescue interventions. Type 3 footwear provides toe protection, protection against penetration, and protection against chemical hazards. EN 659 – Protective gloves for firefighters EN 659 states the minimum performance requirements for protective gloves in all firefighting situations. More specifically, the standard details requirements for resistance to water and chemical penetration, making it applicable to not just firefighting but also workers on chemical sites and oil refineries and various other high-risk situations that are not covered by ISO 18639-4. The key difference between EN 659 and ISO 18639-4 is that the latter only relates to specific specialist rescue activities, such as road traffic crash and urban search and rescue, while EN 659 covers all firefighting situations. EN 443 covers firefighting helmets for uses in building and other structures. The European wide standard is in place to specify the minimum requirements for helmets to protect against the effect of impact, penetration and heat and flame.