PPE Accessories - Expert Commentary

PPE Designers To Develop Innovative Solutions For Firefighters With Maximum Protection And Comfort
PPE Designers To Develop Innovative Solutions For Firefighters With Maximum Protection And Comfort

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.

A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
A Changing Time: The Evolution Of Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment

Firefighting is hot, hazardous, and let's face it, grueling work. But believe it or not, the job today has become even more challenging as firefighters must deal with increased heat loads, toxic substances and other physical challenges that make structural firefighting one of the most demanding professions on the planet. So, needless to say, being well-trained, physically fit, and safely equipped can make all the difference in the world. Evolving Technology The fact is, as heat loads and toxicity exposure risks increase due to modern synthetic construction, the ways in which fires are fought are changing as well. These shifts, combined with the revolution that’s taking place in firefighter protection technology, have led to new and exciting designs in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) offerings. Technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits Take the tried and true SCBA for instance. Since the invention of the first breathing apparatus in the late 1910s, their primary function has been air delivery. But today, technology is providing firefighters with respiratory protection “systems” is which respiratory protection itself is just one of many benefits. Revolution Of Life-Changing Technology Consider this: the effects of technology today impact virtually every aspect of modern life. And the same is true for the fire service, as software, thermal imaging, and wireless communications capabilities become more mainstream on the fireground. In response to these new capabilities, the consensus organizations responsible for PPE performance standards (i.e. NFPA and EN) have increased standards by mandating certain electronic components for each firefighter. But performance of these components can be limited by the fact that only so many “parts” can be attached to an SCBA, or because some capabilities are simply out of reach from a budget perspective. Over time, these limitations create long-term implications when it comes to SCBA choice, because the breathing apparatus purchased today may have to be in use for the next 15 years or more. So, what are firefighters to do? Firefighters should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future It’s More Than Air Delivery Missed opportunities for more timely safety improvements – which keep up with the pace of technology – are rooted in a false assumption that all SCBA are comprised of separate, mechanical components – and that the SCBA function is only about respiratory protection. But air-delivery is not the issue because every SCBA meets the standards, and every SCBA delivers air well. Further, looking at the SCBA merely as a separate component for air diminishes its potential to serve as a revolutionary safety technology “platform.” Safety As A System Firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus To keep pace with the rapid improvements in firefighter safety, firefighters need more than the minimum performance from breathing apparatus. Instead, they should view their SCBA as the “foundation” of a safety system that equips firefighters with the many new safety capabilities that technology offers—now and in the future. I’m talking specifically about platform-type products that can be easily updated with the latest technology, as soon as it becomes available, to help protect them when their lives are on the line. Key Questions To Consider When Looking For An SCBA Include: Does the SCBA have features that allow you to see, hear, and react quickly to changing situations? Can the SCBA sizing be customized to best fit each firefighter? How many total batteries are needed for the SCBA, and how does that affect long-term costs? How well does it integrate with other systems, such as communication devices, portable instruments, etc.? Does the SCBA provide you, your team, and incident command with critical information to make effective, life-saving decisions? Can the SCBA be programmed to meet your standard operating procedures, such as audible and visual alarms at 50% remaining pressure? Is the facepiece reducing or adding to overall SCBA cost and complexity? How easily can the SCBA be updated to meet changing standards? How easily can integrated accessories or features, such as thermal imaging, be added as they are developed in the future? At MSA, we develop technologically-advanced safety equipment designed to help meet today's changing fireground dynamics. We’re committed to setting the pace for safety with continuous improvements and innovations in PPE. For today. For tomorrow. For the future.

Firefighter Uniform Adapts To Cancer Risk, Active Shooter Threat
Firefighter Uniform Adapts To Cancer Risk, Active Shooter Threat

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 

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Secutech Vietnam 10th Anniversary Witnessed Record-breaking Increase In Visitor Numbers
Secutech Vietnam 10th Anniversary Witnessed Record-breaking Increase In Visitor Numbers

At Secutech Vietnam 2017 there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions The 10th edition of Secutech Vietnam will be remembered for its record-breaking increase in visitor numbers. The show welcomed 12,097 global visitors (2016: 7,473) – up 62% on last year, as exhibitors seized the opportunities presented by one of the most promising security markets in Southeast Asia. 270 exhibitors from 20 countries Across 9,000 sqm of gross exhibition space, there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions: Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, the UAE, the UK and the US. The likes of Bosch, Dahua, EN3, Everdigm, Force 21, GIGA, Hikvision, Himax, Honeywell, NAFFCO, Nittan, Questek, Rapidrop, Seagate, SFFECO, Synology, Techpro and Vantech were amongst the leading security and fire brands at the fair. In addition, three pavilions were in place during the course of the show. The Silversea Pavilion housed integrated and smart security solutions, while the UL Pavilion showcased fire safety systems and technologies. At the KFI Pavilion, a number of Korean companies exhibited their state-of-the-art product designs and innovations. Speaking of the results of this edition, Deputy General Manager of Messe Frankfurt New Era Business Media Ltd, Ms Regina Tsai, said: “The security market here in Vietnam is maturing, and shows a high demand for cross-sector technologies. Basic components cannot satisfy the market anymore. Therefore, as you can see, exhibitors have incorporated features for intelligent security solutions, smart buildings, smart city, home automation and fire safety and rescue opportunities in their products.” Across 9,000 sqm of gross exhibition space, there were 270 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions Advanced devices for end users Both newcomers and long-term exhibitors are aware of this market shift in Vietnam. Thus, they have introduced a plethora of advanced devices to end-users to the region. First-time exhibitor Boon Edam is a manufacturer of security entrances and revolving doors. The company’s Export Area Sales Manager, Mr Paul Liu, said: “With its surging economy, Vietnam is a rising market for the security industry with all kinds of opportunities. This is our first time exhibiting at Secutech Vietnam. It is amazing that the leading brands are all here at the show, which I believe is one of the reasons why there is a large flow of visitors.” Meanwhile, GES Co, an advanced security system provider, was delighted to meet target customers during the three-day show. Project leader of Overseas Business Division, Mr Hyun-il Ko, commented: “This is our first year exhibiting at Secutech Vietnam. We think the trade fair is well-organised in terms of visitor traffic and show arrangement. We’re excited to meet up with many distributors coming from commercial and government sectors. We’ll absolutely consider coming back next year.” Advanced technologies on display For some long-term exhibitors, Secutech Vietnam is a place to present their most advanced technologies. Drones and VR for security and rescue purposes as well as facial recognition management systems are some of the hot items. For instance, Vantech’s International Sales Manager, Mr Florian Le Guen, said: “This year, we’ve seen the highest traffic at the trade show than previous ones. Secutech Vietnam is an important business platform in Vietnam for security companies to show new products, and for visitors to see the future of technology.” Managing Director of Aventura, Mr Jack Cabasso, also commented: “Vietnam is the most significant emerging security market in the region and Secutech Vietnam fulfils the industry needs. We’ve seen a great amount of high quality attendees with current and upcoming security product requirements at the show this year.” The Global Digital Security Solutions Forum received positive feedback from both speakers and attendees Events and seminars What’s more, Secutech Vietnam offered more than just business opportunities to industry players. A series of concurrent events featuring leading security firms and associations aimed to disseminate insights and market trends. The Fire & Safety Seminar examined the most recent developments and applications of fire equipment. In addition, the Global Digital Security Solutions Forum, with the theme ‘Play Smart in Security – Applying Smart Solutions with Utmost Added Values’, received positive feedback from both speakers and attendees. The Asia Fire Protection Inspection Council General Meeting also concluded on a high note, with its exclusive 10 member countries discussing issues in their respective markets. There was also the Outdoor Demo Zone which displayed the latest fire equipment.  Secutech Vietnam 2018 Secutech Vietnam is supported by the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Science & Technology, the Ministry of Planning & Investment, the Ministry of Industry & Trade, the Ministry of Construction, and the Ministry of Transport. The next edition will be held 16-18 August 2018 at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center, Ho Chi Minh City.

Saudi Arabia Predicted To Become Second Largest Homeland Security Market By 2018
Saudi Arabia Predicted To Become Second Largest Homeland Security Market By 2018

Protex Arabia was launched in response to increased demands for fire services and alarm systems Saudi Arabia’s homeland security market is forecast to become the second largest in the world after the United States, with an expected worth of a massive US$97 billion in the next 7 years. This equates to a massive US$12 billion spend per year, highlighting very real business opportunities in this rapidly evolving market.As tensions increase in the security environment around the Middle East, authorities are now ramping up efforts to source the latest in counter measures and security systems to meet their increased needs. Security fences, thermal scanners, monitoring and surveillance systems, biometric readers and specialised arms and hazard control equipment are in high demand as measures are sought to protect pipelines, oil and industrial installations, as well as air and sea ports. Saudi Arabia supplies the majority of the world’s crude oil and 50% of its GDP being contributed by the oil and gas sector, the security of this sector alone is a very real risk to the Kingdom.The construction industry in Saudi Arabia, has also seen an increased awareness of the problems and enforcement of safety regulations, due to the number of major projects underway in Saudi Arabia, including the US$6 billion development of the Makkah-Madinah Railway, the expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport and the development of Jeddah Islamic Seaport. These projects have lead to a boom in demand for safety training and equipment, fire services, detection and alarm systems. Protex Arabia gives firms with a serious interest in the fire markets the opportunity to meet with the key decision makers in the Kingdom In response to these market developments, the first international trade exhibition to focus on fire, safety and protection in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Protex Arabia 2011 was launched. The event took place at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events and has been inspired by the outstanding demand from both local and international market leaders such as Firex, NAFFCO, Harco, Bosch, SFFECO and Dupont, who have recognised the long-standing need for a platform of this sort in Saudi Arabia. The event, run jointly by two market leading organisers - The CWC Group and Al-Harithy Company for Exhibitions - focused on the three areas that are the fastest growing sectors and crucial to the Kingdom; commercial, IT and aviation security, homeland security & policing, fire and rescue and health and safety. Trade professionals could enter the exhibition for free by registering online, or alternatively on-site at the exhibition venue.Saudi Arabia has vast opportunities for international companies looking to expand their business in the region and internationally. “To win business in Saudi Arabia, companies must be present and showcase products and services in the Kingdom, meet the people, the agents, representatives and the customers who will affect decisions,” says The CWC Group’s Exhibitions Director, Rob Percival. “Protex Arabia gives all firms with a serious interest in the fire, safety and protection markets, the opportunity to meet with the key decision makers in the Kingdom and discuss and gather first-hand information about state-of-the-art technologies and services, whilst also networking with the biggest international companies of the industry,” he adds.The site of Protex Arabia 2011, the state-of-the-art Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events, is the Kingdom’s modern international exhibition centre tailor-made for big international trade shows.  The exhibition complex included an interactive demonstration area, allowing special outdoor demonstrations and live displays. Protex Arabia was the first opportunity in the Kingdom to view special demonstrations of the latest unmanned drone technology, thanks to leading Saudi systems integrator SecuTronic, as well as presentations from armoured Hummer manufactures, CCTV, the Police K9 unit and fire service. In addition to this, SFFECO hosted an awards ceremony for exhibitors awarded special contributions to the industry.  

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