Firefighter Health and Safety
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...
CU First Responders Finance (CUFR) is excited to welcome Firefighters First Credit Union as a lead lender to their business lending network. Firefighters First Credit Union will be originating commercial and business loans generated by the CUFR network of first responder credit unions. CUFR’s business lending solutions CUFR’s business lending solutions provide an online platform for member credit unions to refer their members’ business loan requests to a trusted lender. They...
Combining thermal imaging and augmented reality (AR) enables firefighters see through smoke, in effect enhancing their vision in the life-threatening environment of a fire. AR capabilities can be deployed in a visor attached to a helmet, and an affixed thermal camera captures the images. The most recent prototype of such a product is a robust helmet design that withstands rough treatment. The system also includes software processing that augments thermal images to enable firefighters to see th...
The latest two winners have been announced in MSA Safety Incorporated’s and DuPont’s 2020 Globe Gear Giveaway. Douglas City (CA) Volunteer Fire Department and Cooper Landing (AK) Emergency Services will each receive four sets of state-of-the-art turnout gear and four helmets to increase the safety of their members. Providing turnout gear MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) team up each year to help volunteer fire departments obtain much-needed gear. With the...
The recruitment of firefighters is not cheap. While metrics and budgetary line items vary among the size of fire departments, the recruitment of one firefighter from the viewing of your recruitment materials on Day One through academy graduation to one full year on the job is very expensive. For a check up from the neck up, let's begin with two quizzes: The Ultimate Firefighter Recruitment & Retention Quiz Part 1: Is your department having difficulty recruiting qualified firefighters,...
Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as the ‘silent killer’, is especially dangerous because it is not visible and cannot be smelt or tasted. The only way to protect against this potentially deadly threat is with a CO alarm. In honor of CO Awareness Month in November, First Alert and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to create an online CO awareness and CO alarm training course for volunteer fire departments nationwide, supplemented by an alarm donation program f...
In response to a specific customer requirement, Kentec Electronics, a globally renowned manufacturer of life-critical control systems, has developed through their Special Applications Department an Evacuation and Alert Control Indicating System (EACIE) to provide fire and rescue teams with an intelligent communication structure to support staged evacuation. Evac-Point system Kentec’s made-to-order ‘Evac-Point’ system uses user-defined zone reference labeling to enable Fire Services to sound alarms in targeted areas of a building, such as a specific flat or floor, so that the public can be evacuated in line with how an incident develops. It is being delivered through Kentec’s Special Applications bespoke engineering department, which has a long-established pedigree for manufacturing evacuation control panels. The modular design allows for greater flexibility and site customization for the installer and end user and reduces lead time availability. Efficient tall-buildings rescue and evacuations The custom-build panel’s development follows the Grenfell tragedy and the 2019 BS 8629 Standard, which seeks to ensure residential buildings over 18 meters high are provided with an effective means to help the fire brigade evacuate efficiently and effectively, regardless of the manufacturer or specific design. It is available in two and three loop versions (expandable to four loops) with a modular design, where banks of five can be added to increase capacity, if required. In-built LED control panel illumination Evac-Point provides the market with a convenient, good-value and highly-sophisticated option" Derrick Hall, Sales Director at Kentec, stated “Evac-Point provides the market with a convenient, good-value and highly-sophisticated option. Other products on the market are only available in the largest sizes, meaning paying for functionality that is not required.” He adds, “Another differentiation is its in-built LED control panel illumination, provided as standard. The BS 8629 Standard recommends a lit environment, so this additional feature saves installing dedicated lighting separately. Our role as life-safety manufacturers is, as ever, to make the lives of our installers and the end users easier and safer.” Integrated with Syncro AS technology The Evac-Point system is available with a flush bezel so that it can be set into the wall, providing a secure and robust, two-point locking steel enclosure. It is based on the reliable Syncro AS technology, with an open protocol architecture that is compatible with Hochiki and Apollo protocols to provide maximum system design flexibility. Kentec is hosting a webinar on Monday 9th November 2020 from 11 am to 11.30 am, where Derrick Hall, Director of Sales, will talk about BS8629 and how it will impact any residential building over 18m, as well as how Kentec Electronics can help.
Comelit Group’s dedicated fire division has achieved the stringent EN54-13 standards for its analog addressable fire detection system. The globally renowned fire safety solutions specialist, known for its high specification solutions, presents a range of specialist fire solutions, including conventional systems that are particularly suited to fire detection in smaller facilities and buildings with simple layouts. Atena addressable panels Comelit’s Atena addressable panels can identify the precise location of a fire and are suitable for applications of all types. Mandy Bowden, Comelit’s Fire Business Development Manager said “Those operating in the fire sector, will not only be familiar with the requirement for fire protection products, but also the need to provide evidence that a complete system will function as intended under all expected operating conditions.” EN54-13 is a rigorous system test procedure that goes beyond any individual standard" Mandy adds, “EN54-13 is a rigorous system test procedure that goes beyond any individual standard. Complying demonstrates how our products really go over and above the requirements needed to satisfy the CPD/CPR, operating as a full fire detection and alarm system and not just as a sum of components. It’s a great accomplishment for Comelit, proving our complete system performance capability at all times, in every environment.” EN54-13 standards compliance EN54-13 (referencing the compatibility and connectivity assessment of system components) was first published in 2005. In most European countries, EN54-13 standards compliance is an essential requirement for fire detection and alarm systems. It’s also a British Standard and referenced in BS 5839 Part 1. Francesca Boeris, Comelit UK Managing Director said “This is a great achievement for the fire team and one Comelit is particularly proud, to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and compliance.” Francesca adds, “It provides our customers and the supply chain as a whole with peace of mind that, in using Comelit’s fire products portfolio, lives are always protected in the event of a fire, even in the most demanding situations, when you need the system most.”
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.
MSA Safety, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are helping volunteer fire departments obtain much-needed gear through MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway. In 2020, 13 departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear and four new helmets to help enhance the safety of their firefighters. The first 500 applicants also received a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. The latest recipients of MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway are the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department in Doniphan, MO, and the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department in Lawton, OK. Highway K Volunteer Fire Department Highway K Volunteer Fire Department (Highway K VFD) protects 95 square miles of rural southern Missouri Highway K Volunteer Fire Department (Highway K VFD) protects 95 square miles of rural southern Missouri, serving around 900 residents and responding to an average of 35 calls annually. Based out of Doniphan, Missouri, the department’s 16 active volunteer firefighters share 12 sets of turnout gear, all of which were donated by other fire departments and are between 15 and 25 years old. Without adequate protective gear, many of the normal duties required of firefighters become more difficult and dangerous. The department puts the health and safety if its members first, and due to the age and condition of their available gear, firefighters do not make interior entry during structural fires unless someone is trapped inside. Rely on voluntary subscriptions and donations for funds Highway K VFD is not supported by any tax dollars and instead relies on voluntary subscriptions, donations, and fundraisers. The department’s firefighters and board of directors spend hundreds of hours each year to help with fundraising efforts, but community members have limited donations to give. Rising operating costs and a small budget make purchasing multiple sets of turnout gear impossible. In addition to the safety implications, receiving the new gear from MSA Safety and DuPont will help the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department’s efforts to recruit new firefighters. “Many [trained firefighters] do not want to volunteer for a department that cannot provide up-to-date gear,” said Chief Greg Greenwood of the Highway K Volunteer Fire Department, adding “I believe that having up-to-date gear that can be issued to the higher-trained volunteers will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteers.” Valley View Volunteer Fire Department Valley View Volunteer Fire Department is a relatively new department serving a rural area of southern Oklahoma Based out of Lawton, Oklahoma, the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department is a relatively new department serving a rural area of southern Oklahoma. In addition to protecting 15 square miles in the immediate vicinity of their station, the fire department is a state-certified emergency medical response agency and responds to other districts to provide fire safety and rescue services that they are lacking. Founded in 2012, the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department’s majority protective turnout gear was donated by other fire departments, but is now between 10 and 15 years old. Most of the fire department’s budget has gone to build the fire station and equip their fire rescue trucks, leaving little left to purchase turnout gear. “The time it will take us to save up enough money [to purchase new gear] could be too late if something were to happen now with the old gear we have,” said Chief Lin Newton of Valley View Volunteer Fire Department, adding “The ability to receive new gear [through MSA’s and DuPont’s Globe Gear Giveaway] will allow us to meet the NFPA standards on gear and better protect our firefighters.”
For obvious health safety reasons owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic spread, the organizers and partners of the world’s renowned trade fair for fire and rescue services, civil protection, safety and security, Interschutz have decided to postpone the appointment made in June 2020 for the event to be held to June 2021. Interschutz Indeed, the health crisis, which directly affects both exhibitors and visitors, forces them to make themselves available at other sites and does not allow gatherings as dense as those expected at a massive trade show. Hannover Regional Health Authority recommends following the advice of the Robert Koch Institute for Major Events The Hannover Regional Health Authority strongly recommends following and applying the advice of the Robert Koch Institute for Major Events. These include comprehensive measures to protect the health of the players when organizing trade fairs and these requirements are clearly not feasible for an international trade fair like Interschutz. Adhering to safety protocols Moreover, the implementation of the safety protocols would have the effect of hindering the smooth running of the events to such a point that the objective of the event planned by the organizers could not be achieved either for exhibitors or visitors, or only with considerable restrictions. It is, therefore, from 14 to 19 June 2021 in Hannover, Germany that this year’s Interschutz event will finally take place, in the hope that the health situation will have improved by then and that they will be able to meet again for exhibitions. The organizers look forward to seeing everyone next year at the Interschutz event, where with great pleasure they are looking to welcome visitors on the exhibition stands and present different product ranges! Expected attendees will be provided with more information about participation at the trade fair as well as at the stands in due course.
In their second year of partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Anheuser-Busch has committed to donating more than 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water in 2020 to volunteer fire departments across the country as they navigate unprecedented challenges. Summer Deliveries Over the summer, the first wave of deliveries totaling more than one million cans were delivered to 150 fire departments across 38 states to help ensure local volunteer fire departments had the resources they need to prepare for the demanding wildfire season. An additional 42,000 cans were delivered to 10 departments that were in declared emergencies from surging wildfires in the west. Support Local Wildfire Following the second wave of deliveries this month, Anheuser-Busch will have produced and delivered nearly 1,630,000 cans of water to 2,534 fire departments across 43 states in 2020 to support local wildfire response efforts in their communities. “We are proud to partner with the National Volunteer Fire Council and deeply appreciate the critical importance of the volunteer fire service – those who selflessly volunteer to protect their communities when they need it most,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “Through our emergency drinking water program, we are able to utilize our production and distribution capabilities to provide necessary resources for members of the volunteer fire service. Alongside our wholesaler network, we will also continue to highlight the efforts and sacrifices of our nation’s brave firefighters.” Partnership Anheuser-Busch supports the nation's volunteer fire service by providing emergency drinking waterAnheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in April 2019 to expand its disaster relief emergency drinking water program to provide critical hydration to our nation’s volunteer fire service. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots on the ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said Steve Hirsch, chair of the NVFC. “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” Commitment To Support Anheuser-Busch has a longstanding commitment to supporting communities in times of need by providing emergency drinking water and supplies for relief efforts. Every year, the brewer periodically pauses beer production at their Cartersville, GA, and Fort Collins, CO, breweries to can clean, safe drinking water to be ready to help communities in times of disaster through their partnerships with the American Red Cross and the NVFC. Since 1988, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesaler partners have donated more than 83 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities impacted by natural disasters and other crises.
This time of year we remind communities to change their smoke detector batteries, advise them how to be safe while cooking during the holidays and, for those of us in wildland fire-prone communities, encourage them to follow the “Ready, Set, Go” model to properly prepare. But there’s another dangerous “season” out there we need to be aware of. In addition to Covid–19, flu season is among us and, as with fire, it’s important to take preventive measures and prepare your resources (you!). When it comes to being exposed to airborne and bloodborne pathogenic germs, firefighters are among the most at risk. And this is not just a little inconvenience that one or two sick days can cure. Emergency rooms become saturated this time of year with people suffering from the flu, which generally peaks between December and April. Harvard Medical School estimates that 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year in the U.S. due to flu. So, how’s your personal “Prevention Bureau” doing? Are you taking preventive measures to mitigate your risk for flu? Have you and your family received the flu vaccine? How about those you work with? Are you stocked up on over-the-counter medications? If you think about it, firefighting and “flu fighting” are very similar. Both start out small, but if not rapidly attacked, they develop into a much worse situation. Let’s look at this similarity a little more closely. Firefighting versus flu fighting: Incipient stage 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year in the U.S. due to flu Fire - This first stage begins when heat, oxygen and a fuel source combine and have a chemical reaction resulting in fire. This is also known as “ignition” and is usually represented by a very small fire that hopefully goes out on its own before severe stages are reached. Recognizing a fire in this stage provides your best chance at suppression or escape. Cold/Flu - The incipient stage is the incubation period, or the time it takes for a person who has been exposed to the virus to become infected (think of infection as ignition). The Merck Manual’s Online Medical Library section on influenza reports the incubation period may be from one to four days (first stage), averaging about 48 hours from exposure. Controlling the spread Fire - As the fire grows, the structure’s fire load and available oxygen are used as fuel for the fire. The fire starts rapidly spreading to other parts of the building, creating more damage. It is during this shortest of the four stages when a deadly “flashover” can occur, potentially trapping, injuring or killing firefighters. Cold/Flu - The U.S. Library of Medicine defines communicability as the time it takes an infectious agent to be transmitted from an infected person to another person (spreading rapidly). Once infected with influenza-type illnesses, the affected person may begin shedding the virus to others one day before signs and symptoms occur and continue to be contagious after symptoms begin. Prevention is all but impossible at this stage of the disease. Fully Developed When it comes to being exposed to airborne and bloodborne pathogenic germs, firefighters are among the most at risk Fire - When all combustible materials have been ignited, a fire is considered fully developed. This is the hottest phase of a fire and the most dangerous for anybody trapped within it. At this point our efforts are generally focused on protecting endangered structures. We surround the fire, apply massive amounts of water and let the contents burn themselves out. Cold/Flu - Fighting a fully developed flu virus is not much different. You position yourself in a safe place (usually your bed!) and “surround and drown” with fluids/rest. You generally cannot do much except protect exposures (others) by limiting your contact with them. The Firefighter Flu Prevention Bureau If fighting the flu has similarities with fighting fire, we can extend the metaphor a little further. In the fire service we rely on our Fire Prevention Bureau to educate the public as to the common causes of residential fires. We understand that a little education goes a long way in preventing fires. Well, the flu is no different, except this time we’re educating ourselves! So, following are a few tips from your friendly Flu Prevention Bureau: Wash your hands. The most important prevention measure for preventing colds and flu is frequent hand washing. Rub your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds to slough germs off the skin. Get a flu vaccine. Within two weeks of getting a flu vaccine, antibodies develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Children receiving the vaccine for the first time need two doses delivered one month apart. If you get exposed or get sick, take action. Give yourself time to recover, with plenty of fluids and lots of rest. Seek medical help if your symptoms don’t improve. Antiviral medicine may also help prevent flu if you have been exposed to someone with flu symptoms. In this flu season, take steps to protect your health and the health of those around you. Check with your NFPA—or Nearest Family Physician Available—for additional preventive measures on reducing this risk!
The importance of firefighter health has received increased media attention in recent times, and rightly so. Following Covid-19 more emphasis is now being placed on hygiene and disinfection, which I believe will be one positive outcome of this pandemic. A significant cultural change has been a long time coming to take us away from firefighters wearing dirty kit as a badge of honor that proves their hard work and value, to understanding that clean and well maintained kit supported by detailed and robust hygiene processes that mitigate every contact with contaminants are essential. Firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens Prior to Covid-19, the media were also reporting more regularly on the very real issue of firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens, an issue when embedded in equipment and absorbed. Cancer has been highlighted in some scientific reports to be the leading cause of death among firefighters, with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) reporting that cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) also found that in the US, firefighters had a 14 percent higher chance of dying of cancer compared to the general population. The results of these reports need to be underpinned by robust medical research to reflect the landscape, culture, current standards and operational practices for Fire Services in the UK. Cancer caused nearly two out of three (61%) firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2017 While these shocking statistics are relatively well known, not enough has been done to force a change. Manufacturers of medical and safety technology products have a responsibility to innovate solutions that support change. To this end, Dräger’s Health for the Firefighter campaign complements our training programmes and communicates the importance of detailed hygiene processes; from the handling and storage of masks and breathing apparatus equipment through to the subsequent cleaning of the kit after an incident has occurred. Training is the first and crucial step in guiding a cultural shift, and ultimately protecting the health and well-being of our firefighters. Using technology, research and innovation It’s important that training programmes reflect the fact that fire services are the experts – they have the experience and understand what solutions are practical. It is therefore our role to use technology, research and innovation to ensure we work together as partners with applied training helping to create a robust consistency in approach as well as providing a safe environment to train. Dräger’s training is typically split into three areas: Training systems - these encompass mobile or fixed training facilities that enable state-of-the-art training so firefighters can experience real fires or extrication scenarios in a safe environment including compartment fire behavior training (CFBT). At Dräger they include a vast portfolio of potential fire and rescue environments, including petrochemical plants, hospitals, schools, high-rise buildings, vehicles, aircraft and subway stations; Technical training - providing comprehensive know-how on the maintenance and repair of equipment – from mechanical and electronic components through to cleaning and disinfection; Fitness training – providing equipment to help ensure that firefighters are prepared for the physical challenges that come with the job and can be tested and monitored to improve their safety. The science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants Training has come a long way from when it centred simply around exposure to hot temperatures often referred to as ‘burn to learn’. It is now about much more than protecting a firefighter from becoming burnt, but rather teaching the science and behavior of a fire and its contaminants, not only to support fire and rescue operations, but also to protect the firefighter’s own health. While Covid-19 is driving improvements in this regard, what is more difficult is helping fire services to realize that technical training on the cleaning and hygiene processes related to kit is just as important to firefighter health. Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology. While manual cleaning of equipment is still generally the norm, there are many fire services that are moving towards mechanical washing systems, which provide complete consistency in washing temperatures, the amount of detergent used, speed and temperature of drying – which can all work together to disinfect contaminants and to protect the longevity of the kit. Training and support around these systems encompasses the entire purchasing and use life cycle; from helping to build business cases for procurement and logistical installation support, to advice on the exact processes a firefighter should take when leaving a scene and returning to the station. Support also encompasses the ongoing maintenance of equipment and the quantity of stock required. An international look at hygiene and infection control Consistent and robust hygiene processes are also about technology Despite such advances, the UK is still behind other countries in terms of our hygiene and infection control practices. Netherlands and Sweden, for example, are two European countries leading the way in shifting the mindset and using mechanical washing equipment supported by improved logistics for managing and tracking PPE and RPE more widely. For these countries, stringent hygiene practices are commonplace and are not just about fighting cancer or the current pandemic, but also about protecting firefighters and support staff from more day-to-day illnesses such as flu, common colds, cold sores and other communicable illnesses. Within Dräger, my role includes advising on these best-practice examples and new equipment technologies – working with our UK-based manufacturing facility and R&D departments to ensure they are designed with the firefighter in mind, and working with Fire Services, Government and other key stakeholders to help drive improvements to further protect our crews. Having manufactured advanced technology solutions for the Fire Services for more than 115 years, Dräger has the experience and technological know-how to support this necessary change in how we think about equipment, its cleaning, and ultimately how to apply technology and training to make our firefighters safer.
According to the 2009 edition of the Emergency Care Research Institute Health Devices Guide, operating room fires rank third on the top 10 technology hazards. ECRI estimates that between 550 to 650 fires occur in operating rooms in the United States. The most common sites where fires were the head, face, neck and upper chest (Hart, MD et al. 2011) which means that patients are disproportionately at risk compared to patients exposed to fire risks in other parts of a hospital. Fire hazards in Operating Rooms I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the design or implementation of fire protection and life safety systems at different stages in several hospitals across Latin America. In these projects, fire professionals have recognized the importance of protecting the operating room from fire and electrical risks. The risk is heightened considering the cost of the medical equipment that exists there, but not many people really grasp the level of risk that exists during surgery. The risk is heightened considering the cost of the medical equipment Fires in these type of places are especially deadly because they might occur directly on the skin or air ways of patients on oxygen enriched environments. Hospital designers and planners should focus on prevention first, and with the help of medical experts create an environment where the likelihood of a fire is kept to the minimum, and where doctors and nurses have access and means to put down fires and keep patients out of harm. Common fire sources The most common fire sources that can be found in this type of environment are medical PPEs, such as gowns, hood and masks, drapes, towels and sponges that cover or are used over the patient’s skin, as well as plastic tubes and accessories directly attached to the patient and that might go into the airways. There are also different kinds of flammable chemicals and alcohol-based solutions used to prepare and clean the patient and the presence of medical gases. ECRI considers the patient’s skin and hair can be considered as fire sources as well, when certain conditions are met, like high oxygen concentrations on the air. According to the ECRI guide, 68% of fires in operating rooms were caused by electrosurgery equipment and other electrical hemostatic devices. In these environments prone to high concentrations of oxygen, any spark can become a potential ignition source. Between the medical equipment that might cause sparks, you can find: high speed surgical drills, defibrillators, lasers and electrocautery units. Of course, the most obvious ignition sources found in an OR are damaged cables and wires. The NFPA 99 (Standard for Fire Protection in Healthcare Facilities) considers that medical air and gas distribution systems have an inherent risk of fire and explosion associated with them, because these gases can act as oxidizers and create ideal conditions for ignition. Many studies indicate that almost any material can ignite with oxygen concentrations on the air above 30% (normal O2 concentration on the air is 21%). It’s also important to mention that nitrous oxide used in anesthesia supports combustion the same manner as oxygen (Hart MD. Et al. 2011). Types of Fires and how to minimize their risk According to the ECRI, fires in the operating room environment can be divided into fires that occur in the OR environment, like ignitions on medical equipment or materials stored or located around the operating table, and fires that ignite directly over the skin and airways of the patient. Many studies consider that 44% of fires over the patient’s skin are in the face, neck, head or upper chest and 21% on the airways. “The basic elements of a fire are always present during surgery” says Mark Bruley, vice president of Accident and Forensic Investigation on ECRI. “Slow reaction or the use of improper firefighting techniques and tools can lead to damage, destruction or death”. This calls for active involvement of the medical staff, including surgeons and anesthesiologists, in fire prevention training and pre-surgery planning. The basic elements of fire, such as oxygen, are always present during surgery Fire prevention in pre-surgery planning ECRI and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) strongly recommend that surgeons and nurses should include fire prevention and possible hazard identification during their pre-surgery planning. “Each one control a specific side of the fire tetrahedron and by properly managing their technique and part of the equation, surgical fires can be avoided” says Bruley. Medical staff should identify the location of gas and oxygen shutoff valves and evaluate the need of oxygen concentrations above 25%. Organizations like the OMS recommend avoiding the use of open oxygen sources on the face during procedures and use tracheal tubes or laryngeal masks instead. Also, it’s a good practice to use floor to ceiling drapes to create a barrier between the oxygen-enriched atmosphere around the operating table and the rest of the room. Staff should participate in drills and training on the use of firefighting equipment Also, ECRI recommends that all the staff should participate in drills and training on the use of firefighting equipment and rescue and escape methods. In case of a fire, all oxygen and medical gas sources need to be managed, and medical equipment removed or relocated (if possible) if they are directly affected by fire or the fire extinguished in place. It’s important to note that ECRI and other institutions, like the World Health Organization, recommend that fire extinguishers should be used only after the patient has been safely removed from the hazard. In extreme cases of fires over the patient’s skin, ECRI says that a CO2 extinguisher is preferable because they minimize tissue contamination and damage. Fire Protection Equipment in the Operating Room The IFC (International Fire Code) and the NFPA 99 and 101 (Life Safety Code) provide several guidelines to manage fire safety in healthcare facilities. Fire protection means can be passive or active, and one of them doesn’t exclude the other. Passive fire protection serves the purpose to minimize fire spread through ventilation, electrical wiring and openings through walls and windows. They need to be designed to keep flames and smoke from nearby fires away from the operating room, and to prevent smoke and flames that might occur inside one operating room to spread to the nearby areas. These protections include, but are not limited to: Walls, floors and ceilings should not only be fire rated for 120 minutes, and doors for at least ¾ of that time, but to be constructed in a manner that they are sealed to prevent smoke and flame leakage inside and outside. Use of fire stoppings in all ventilation, electrical and other kind of ducts that go through fire rated walls, floors or ceilings. Use of intumescent coverings in all structural and non-structural elements. Use of fire-retardant furniture, although is important that almost no material is fire retardant in atmospheres where the oxygen concentration is over 30%. Dampers and smoke control systems. All electrical systems and medical air, gas and oxygen distribution systems should be designed according the guidelines of the NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code) and the NFPA 99. Active fire protection Active fire protection includes automatic detection and alarm and extinguishing measures Active fire protection includes automatic detection and alarm and extinguishing measures. Fire extinguishers should be located for easy access and clearly identified by a plastic sign from the wall to the ceiling. Even though the NFPA 101 recognizes that fire sprinklers are mandatory in healthcare facilities, they should not be activated during an active surgery because this water might contaminate open wounds. In fact, ECRI recommends against the use of any water-based fire extinguished in operating rooms, including water mist systems. Also, the ECRI mentions that water that pools near or below medical equipment can cause electric shocks to the occupants. Regarding automatic detection and alarm, point type smoke detectors are not recommended for this type of application because they can accumulate dust, and regular dust contains levels of dead human tissue that might contaminate the environment. early fire detection Operating rooms call for early detection to avoid damages to costly medical equipment, but most importantly to minimize the risk and exposure to smoke and flames to staff and patients. The preferred detection method for this kind of application is aspirating smoke detection. Considering that operating rooms usually use forced ventilation, international guidelines propose the use of high sensibility detectors. The EN 54-20 prescribes Class 1 o Class 2 sensibility for rooms with high velocity air changes. Bosch Security and Safety Systems offer the Invisible Type smoke detector which doesn’t use a smoke chamber to detect smoke particles, but instead uses a state of the art technology and patented infrared source arrangement that allows it to be completely flat and with no openings. This detector can be easily cleaned, and with the IP66 back box accessory it doesn’t accumulate any dust whatsoever. Duct smoke detection should be installed in the air conditioning ducts to activate dampers and smoke control systems. As with fire extinguishers, manual pull stations should be properly located and identified to allow medical staff to give alert of a potential fire hazard. Notification appliances Notification appliances activate in specific areas of the hospital In the event of a fire, notification appliances activate in specific areas of the hospital, related to the fire location and risk. Inside operating rooms only visible notification is recommended, because audible signals might affect patient’s wellbeing. Voice evacuation should be activated in common and prepping areas nearby the operating rooms. All the fire detection and notification devices shall be connected to a central Fire Alarm panel (FACP) to allow staff in charge of fire and evacuation response to receive timely information and make real time decisions. The panel and all the systems related to fire detection and evacuation should be installed according to the NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code), EN 54-14, BS 5839 or any local relevant guidelines. Proper maintenance of all passive and active fire protection systems and regular training and preparation from medical staff and doctors are critical to minimize the risk of fires in operating rooms. Prevention is the first step, but when fires occur, optimal outcomes depend on coordinated team efforts (Hart MD. Et al, 2011). Also, a comprehensive fire safety program should be implemented in all hospital areas, including operating rooms.
Fire extinguishers are red for a reason, aren’t they? Traditionally, red is associated with danger and fire and red is certainly easy to see, even in darker environments. Aesthetic fire extinguishers But a company in Japan is offering a line of fire extinguishers that abandons the signature color for an approach that is more aesthetically pleasing and that fits more easily into modern decor. Disaster prevention brand, Modular Aerial Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) has unveiled fire extinguishers that are black or white, thus defying convention and better harmonizing with a variety of living spaces. The Japanese company, Morita Miyata Corp. has been making fire extinguishers for more than 100 years The Japanese company, Morita Miyata Corp. has been making fire extinguishers for more than 100 years. Their new sleek, minimalist fire extinguishers have won a Good Design Good Focus Award in the category of disaster prevention and recovery design. The award celebrates outstanding works designed for the prevention of and recovery from natural disasters. Disaster preparedness The concept is to ‘Take Bosai into the lifestyle’ (Bosai is disaster preparedness in Japanese). Beyond aesthetics, there is a practical reason to make the lowly fire extinguisher blend more seamlessly with a room’s decor. The reason is that prettier fire extinguishers encourage consumers to place the extinguisher proudly out in the open, where it is within easier reach to use quickly if needed. The minimal and attractive design allows the fire extinguisher to be placed in a more visible, high profile place in homes, without the ‘harsh’ red interfering with the interior decor. Consumers are prompted to enter the date of purchase and expiration date on the fire extinguisher’s body. Higher effectiveness of fire extinguishers in visible spots In short, fire extinguishers can be more effective if they are not hidden away in a closet or cupboard where valuable seconds are lost locating them in case of a fire. The idea is to unify style and function. Obviously, style is an undervalued element in the entire fire industry, given the affinity for less subtle use of red evident in everything from fire apparatus to web site names. Breaking traditional conventions Abandoning tradition may be creative, but don’t years of convention complicate the concept of changing the color of emergency equipment? For example, in the case of fire extinguishers, although primarily red, they also use color-coded labels to designate their type, such as blue for dry powder, yellow for wet chemical, etc. Also, fire pull stations, for example, are red, but pull stations for police emergencies may be blue instead. The colors have meaning that is understood to building occupants. Therefore, using new colors in public buildings could cause confusion, even if they contribute positively to the aesthetics of an expensive office suite, for example. Extending the concept of ‘Kanso’ to fire extinguishers Extending the concept of 'Kanso' to fire extinguishers has promise, as long as design does not interfere with safety The Japanese interior design concept of ‘Kanso’ is all about simplicity and focuses on the flow and movement of energy in a space. The concept seeks to eliminate clutter from a home and to show restraint and simplicity in every aspect of design. Extending the concept of 'Kanso' to fire extinguishers has promise, as long as design simplicity does not interfere with safety. The Good Design award jury states, “The simple modification of changing the color of the fire extinguisher to black and white is a big step forward in creating harmony with the living space.” Changes in style of fire apparatus and firefighting equipment The jury adds, “There has been a preconceived notion that fire extinguishers must be red in order to grab visual attention. We have just accepted fire extinguishers to be red because that is the way they are. Maybe an innovation like this can happen in other areas. The fact that the development of this product could lead to changing many other preconceptions we have was another important factor for the award.” Should everyone be looking for ‘Kanso’ to make its way soon to fire stations? Might a more positive flow of energy contribute to more relaxed and effective firefighters? Should fire apparatus colors be coordinated with station decor? Could it be that stylish fire extinguishers are only the beginning? These are some of the important questions in the development of new fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment.
During the Grenfell Tower fire incident in 2017, ineffective fire doors allowed smoke and toxic gases to spread through the building more quickly than should have been possible. Sir Martin Moore-Bick made this finding in the conclusion to Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. It serves to highlight the importance that fire doors play in protecting life and property. Grenfell Inquiry findings The Grenfell Inquiry findings have impacted subsequent United Kingdom government guidance and proposed legislation. For example, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) insists that non-fire resisting doors should be replaced immediately with door sets that are third party certified as providing at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. The BWF works to increase ‘mass market’ awareness of the vital role that fire doors play in protecting life and property The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) works to increase ‘mass market’ awareness of the vital role that fire doors play in protecting life and property. The BWF sponsored Fire Door Safety Week (21-27 Sept. 2020) in partnership with the UK Home Office’s National Fire Safety Campaign, the National Fire Chiefs Council and London Fire Brigade. The observance is the brainchild of the British Woodworking Federation, supported by the BWF Fire Door Alliance. Importance of fire doors in protecting life and property While there are multiple types of fire doors available, certified timber fire doors were subjected to government fire tests in 2019 and were shown effective at meeting and exceeding the minimum burn time requirement of 30 minutes. Factors to ensure a fire door performs as intended include product manufacture, quality, installation and maintenance. Correctly specifying, maintaining and managing a fire door can mean the difference between life and death for building occupants in an emergency. Appointing ‘Responsible Person’ to inspect fire doors Everyone plays a role to ensure a fire door performs as intended, from the manufacturer to a building’s users. Building owners should appoint a ‘Responsible Person’ to check the performance of fire doors. Propping open a fire door keeps it from performing as intended in the event of a fire. Fire doors and other passive fire protection industries have common interests with other fire-related organizations. More education can help the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the importance of fire doors. Regular inspection of fire doors Owners should carry out checks at three-month intervals to ensure all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices Sir Martin Moore-Bick also recommended that those who have responsibility for entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise building should be required by law to ensure such doors comply with current standards. Owners and managers of any residential building that contains separate dwellings should carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure they comply with applicable standards. Owners and managers should also be required to carry out checks at three-month intervals to ensure all fire doors are fitted with effective self-closing devices that are in working order. Raising standard of fire doors via Third party certification Third party certification is the best way to raise the standard of fire doors and fire door sets across the board to ensure all fire doors in any building type meet safety standards. Also, inspections should be carried out by trained and registered professionals who identify any faults and highlight where doors do not meet standards. Doors in high-traffic areas should be checked more frequently as they are more susceptible to damage.
An explosion of blue-colored smoke on Sept. 5, 2020 in Yucalpa, California, was the beginning of a large wildfire in El Dorado Ranch Park. The pyrotechnic device was essentially a smoke bomb designed to send plumes of pink or blue smoke rising into the air, designating the gender of an expected baby. The expectant dad had packed the target with a highly explosive substance called Tannerite and shot it with a high-powered rifle. The target was designed to explode in pink or blue to reveal whether the couple was expecting a boy or a girl. Flammable foliage When the device ignited, so did the dry, wild grasses growing up to 4 feet tall in the meadow at the park, 80 miles east of Los Angeles. In the peak of summer, Southern California foliage is extremely flammable, and there were already fires burning across the state. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The family that sparked the fire sought to put down the flames using water bottles. Then they called 911. The responsible individuals were still at the park when firemen arrived, and there are also surveillance cameras. Wildfire Spread And Evacuation The fire spread from the park to the north on to Yucalpa Ridge that separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucalpa. The fire threatened a nearby residential neighborhood, and some 21,000 people were evacuated. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The pyrotechnic show was a variation on the popular trend of gender reveal parties, which seek to announce the gender of an expected infant in increasingly (and competitively) colorful and/or dramatic ways. The parties are often featured prominently on social media. Rising temperatures Also contributing to the fire was recent weather in California, whose terrain was scorching in record-breaking temperatures as high as 120 degrees F in early September. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) reminds the public that, with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it does not take much to start a wildfire, and those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible. Natural conditions and human activity Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers, including downed power lines, sparks from tire blowouts, and barbecues that get out of control. The pivotal gender-reveal part is just the latest example. If not for the increasingly dry and scorched conditions that make wildfire so easy to ignite, such human events would be much less consequential. With thousands of acres of wildfire raging across California, the cause of one wildfire seems less important in the overall scheme of things. However, the event does emphasize how seemingly minor events can have a very large impact. Lightning and fireworks Another cause of recent wildfires was lightning with more than 10,000 lightning strikes sparking 376 fires on Aug 16 and 17, 2020. In a season of wildfires, use of fireworks, for whatever reason, is a particular risk. Fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires each year in the United States. Of those, about 1,200 injuries are from less powerful devices such as small firecrackers and sparklers.
C-TEC’s revolutionary Hush Pro BS 5839-6 Grade C domestic fire detection and alarm system has been chosen for three iconic tower block developments in Manchester, United Kingdom. Located in the center of Piccadilly, Oxygen Towers is a striking set of three new 31-storey, 16-storey and 10-storey buildings consisting of 345 stylish 1, 2 and 3-bedroomed apartments and 12 spacious family townhouses. Protecting futuristic ‘vertical village’ Designed to provide the ultimate living experience, the futuristic ‘vertical village’ combines luxury accommodation with fabulous five-star leisure facilities including a swimming pool, cinema, gym and spa. The stunning development also features lush garden terraces and rooftop gardens. Selected for its cutting-edge technology and capacity to align with the building’s fire strategy, Hush Pro will integrate with the site’s BS 5839 part 1 landlord system to offer higher levels of fire protection than the Grade D unmonitored battery alarm systems, typically used in domestic installations. Hush Pro BS 5839-6 Grade C fire detection and alarm system As a fully-monitored BS 5839 part 6 Grade C system, Hush Pro reports open and short circuit faults As a fully-monitored BS 5839 part 6 Grade C system, Hush Pro reports open and short circuit faults and operation faults back to the fire panel and even allows management and maintenance companies to remotely monitor the system. Once the project is complete, each of the flats will feature an easily accessible low-level Hush Pro Controller connected to a series of Hush Pro smoke detectors, base sounders, multi-sensors and heat detectors all seamlessly interfaced to a powerful network of C-TEC 4-loop ZFP addressable fire control panels to provide all-encompassing fire and fault monitoring of the system. Enhancing fire safety management If, for any reason, part of the domestic fire alarm is compromised, this will immediately be reported to the building management team to allow them to action the fault and re-instate full fire detection coverage to the flat. John Blundell, Head of Solid State Security Ltd (Solid State Living), the specialist fire company involved with the design and delivery of the project, said “As well as enhancing the fire safety management, property and life protection of the buildings, a key factor in our client’s decision to invest in Hush Pro was the system’s ability to notify building management in the event of a real fire and, at the same time, its potential to virtually eliminate false alarms.” Reducing false fire alarms He adds, “Hush Pro’s unique capacity to differentiate between Fire Level 1, usually a false alarm reported locally in the dwelling, and Fire Level 2, almost always a real alarm activated outside of the dwelling, reduces false fire alarms, unnecessary call-outs and the risk of a real fire alarm being ignored. As our client requires immediate notification in the event of a fire but also first-class false alarm management, Hush Pro will prove ideal.” John further stated, “Also of vital importance to our client is that, as the project consists of private balconies with an open plan flat arrangement, Hush Pro is the only fire alarm solution that can actually meet the requirements of BS 9991 Annex D3.” Hush Pro’s powerful false alarm management capability will also prove invaluable at the site" Jason Lawler, 24-7 Group’s Group Director and the person responsible for delivering the electrical and mechanical systems for the project, said “Hush Pro is an outstanding solution. The system will provide residents with easy-to-use detection, alarm, silencing and test facilities so they can test their own devices, be alerted to system faults and hush any false alarms at the Hush Button, which is positioned at light-switch level for safe and easy access. Hush Pro’s powerful false alarm management capability will also prove invaluable at the site.” Integrated BS 5839 part 1 and part 6 fire alarm solutions John Blundell said, “Client satisfaction is incredibly important to us so we were delighted to be able to specify a robust and fully-compliant integrated BS 5839 part 1 and part 6 fire alarm solutions for Oxygen Towers.” He concludes, “With its capacity to provide high levels of fire protection yet also minimize costly and disruptive false alarms, Hush Pro is fast becoming the system of choice for fire strategy engineers and consultants dedicated to enhancing fire safety in high-rise residential and specialist housing projects throughout the UK.”
When Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s Helicopter Emergency Medics became concerned about their current helmet due to its obsolescence and poor comfort, the charity contacted Vimpex who they were aware had successfully supplied helmet solutions to other Air Ambulance Services, including Lincolnshire and Kent. Pacific R6C Rescue Helmet Following meetings to identify product performance requirements, and a product trial by critical care paramedics and doctors, Thames Valley Air Ambulance chose the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet because it gives the charity a high-performing, future-proofed safety solution that can also be fully customized. Every part of the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet can be quickly removed without the use of special tools" Vimpex Business Development Manager Steve Clelland explains, “Every part of the Pacific R6C Paramedic/Rescue Helmet can be quickly and easily removed without the use of special tools. Cost of ownership is therefore minimized as repairs and replacement of all components is simple. Pacific helmets are tested in the most extreme conditions required for conformity to relevant clauses of the latest EN standards.” High performance PPE equipment The fantastic life-saving work carried out by Thames Valley Air Ambulance when there’s a life-threatening injury or medical emergency, and relies on the skill and bravery of its team of doctors and critical care paramedics, some of the most highly skilled pre-hospital medics in the world, to deliver advanced trauma care to some of the most seriously injured patients across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire from its base at RAF Benson. Such exceptional individuals, who regularly put their own safety on the line to protect others, need the highest levels of equipment performance, including their head protection PPE, to ensure that their well-being is never compromised. Fire evacuation and alarm systems major Vimpex is Europe's renowned independent manufacturer and distributor of high quality fire evacuation and alarm system products for installers, distributors and OEM manufacturers. The company is also a specialist in the supply of technical rescue and PPE equipment for UK fire, rescue, police, military and emergency services teams.
Cadiz Fire Brigade in Spain has recently taken delivery of new, state-of-the-art fire kit supplied by Bristol Uniforms, a globally renowned designer and manufacturer of protective clothing for emergency services across the globe. The contract was secured through Bristol’s international distributor, El Corte Ingles, who fought off stiff competition to secure the four-year contract. Ergonomic XFlex design Cadiz has ordered 780 sets of Bristol’s lightweight, ergonomic XFlex design (called FireFlex in Spain), with integrated safety harnesses incorporated into the jacket and trouser. The kit has a Hainsworth TITAN1250 outer, a highly breathable fabric featuring Nomex and a high percentage of Kevlar, which gives the fabric outstanding tensile and tear strength. In addition, it has a GORE-TEX FIREBLOCKER moisture barrier, which is made from a micro-porous breathable fabric that stops water passing through to the firefighter’s personal clothing, whilst allowing sweat to escape and reducing heat stress. Four-year care and maintenance contract To ensure health and safety of its firefighters, Cadiz Fire Brigade has opted for a four-year care and maintenance contract To further protect the health and safety of its firefighters, Cadiz Fire Brigade has opted for a four-year care and maintenance contract, so as to ensure that the kit is kept in good condition and free from contamination. Total Safety manages all Bristol’s garment care and maintenance in Spain and has worked with Bristol for more than 25 years. It collects soiled garments from customers and returns them clean and repaired within 72 hours. Featuring integrated safety harness Paco Griso, Bristol Uniform’s agent in Spain, said “The new kit has now been rolled out to firefighters in the Province of Cadiz and we are already getting positive feedback from them. They are really pleased with how flexible the kit is and how easy it to maneuver in tight spaces. The integrated harnesses, certified to EN 361, are an additional safety feature which will help prevent serious falls in fire and recuse situations.” Richard Cranham, International Sales Manager at Bristol Uniforms, said “This is a large contract for us in Spain, which was delivered on time, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the risks of wearing contaminated PPE have become ever more apparent, more and more fire and rescue services across the globe are opting for ongoing care and maintenance packages, so as to ensure their PPE is free of carcinogens and the health of their crew is prioritized.”
Firefighters across Cornwall are wearing brand new PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), procured through the UK Collaborative PPE Framework. All 560 firefighters in the county have been equipped with two sets of new gold-colored structural coats and trousers, along with flash hoods, and a set of both structural and rescue gloves. Structural PPE The new PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), designed and manufactured by Bristol Uniforms, benefits from the very latest in fiber and fabric technology, along with ergonomic styling for ease of movement. Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), as part of their commitment to firefighter safety, also engaged with staff about the provision of additional PPE to meet the demands of non-structural fire situations, such as road traffic collisions and wildfire control. This new structural firefighting PPE supports the specific needs of Cornwall’s remote rural risk profile This new structural firefighting PPE supports the specific needs of Cornwall’s remote rural risk profile. As a result, an order has also been placed for lighter-weight, more breathable rescue jackets which are compatible with the structural trousers and other essential PPE, providing the most suitable level of protection. Light-weight, breathable rescue jackets Mark Salter is Group Manager at CFRS, with responsibility for Assets, Health and Safety and Wellbeing said, “Feedback from our firefighters has been very positive. The cut of the jacket is more fitted than our previous kit, which is better for movement and maneuverability, and the extra padding on the knees means the trousers are more comfortable when kneeling or crawling”. He adds, “The wide range of male and female sizes ensures that every member of the crew can get a good fit. The firefighters have found that the new lighter color shows up dirt and soot, but that is a helpful indicator of when the kit needs cleaning.” Maintenance and Care service with Bristol Uniforms Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is continuing its Maintenance and Care service arrangement with Bristol, for regular cleaning, and repairs and decontamination if necessary. Dirty kit is collected by Bristol Uniforms and taken to one of two in-house Service Centers, where it is washed and thoroughly examined before being returned within seven days, a service that is reassuring for Mark Salter and his firefighters. Mark Salter said, “The robust care provision is very important to us, particularly given the current risk of coronavirus, and concerns around carcinogens in smoke particles. Bristol’s in-house cleaning and repair service means we can always have full confidence that our PPE is fit for purpose and providing the right protection.” Advanced technologies and enhanced comfort As a fairly small FRS, the Collaborative Framework offered us the best possible efficiencies" He adds, “As a fairly small FRS, the Collaborative Framework offered us the best possible efficiencies, and we’re very pleased with the result. Bristol Uniforms has provided excellent support and guidance throughout the process, as have Kent Fire & Rescue Service who was particularly helpful in the early stages of the procurement process.” Philip Tasker, UK and Ireland Sales Director at Bristol Uniforms, commented “It is very rewarding to see the Cornish firefighters out on the job in their smart new PPE, knowing that they are benefitting from a state-of-the-art design featuring advanced technologies, enhanced comfort and maximum protection.” Enhanced staff safety Mark Hewitt, Chief Fire Officer at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) stated “The safety and welfare of our staff is of paramount importance, so ensuring that our firefighters are provided with quality Personal Protective garments is essential. I am assured that this new PPE from Bristol Uniforms meets our specific requirements.” Mark adds, “My thanks and acknowledgement also goes to Cornwall Council for supporting our Fire and Rescue Service with a 15 year capital replacement program, which enables significant investment in safety critical areas such as our PPE procurement, and also our internal technical services team who have worked with the collaboration and Bristol Uniforms to deliver this project.”
Animal disease outbreaks namely African Swine Fever (Virus from pigs), Ebola Virus Disease (Virus from fruit bats, chimpanzees, monkeys and gorillas), Avian Influenza (Virus from ducks, geese and swans), and H1N1 Influenza (a combination of viruses from pigs, birds and humans) brought devastated pandemic threats and became global challenges recently. The prevention, control, and eradication of diseases are agricultural concerns for biosafety and biosecurity to safeguard primary public-health problems throughout the world. During an animal disease outbreak, official measures namely slaughter and safe disposal of the carcasses in affected farms, cleaning and disinfection of sheds will be implemented. Thus, appropriate PPE must be selected to: Protect frontline operators who carry out cleaning and disinfection processes Limit the disease spreading into uninfected areas Appropriate PPE during pandemics WHO suggested standard contact and droplet precautions and appropriate PPE (Include gloves, eye protection, face shield, gowns etc.) should be used during these epidemics. Animal disease sometimes can cause international emergency, thus ULTITEC suggested the government should select PPE according to WHO recommendation on Ebola Virus Disease if there are no specific epidemic handbook. Animal disease outbreaks are public safety lessons worldwide which caused serious health, social and economic consequences to affected countries. Additional cases may continue to occur at any time and from anywhere. Moreover, every frontline operators are valuable assets for the country, ULTITEC encouraged the government to select appropriate PPE to make sure they can go home safely after every heroic mission.
A huge new Amazon fulfillment center on the outskirts of Bristol has installed Vimpex Smart+Guard tough polycarbonate hinged protective covers to protect the building’s alarm call points from accidental or malicious activation, which could trigger costly building evacuations resulting in lost production and missed logistical connections. Life and fire protection system Amazon’s new 500,000 sq. feet fulfillment center at Severn Beach is designed to ensure that more people in the Bristol region receive next-day deliveries. When it is fully operational in September the center will employ around 1,000 people and will be equipped with advanced robotics technology to help lift and move products around the plant. Fire detection specialists AFS (AFS Holdings), engaged to engineer and install a whole life protection system at the fulfillment center site, fitted Vimpex Smart+Guard covers to all the relevant manual call points across the site to protect the system from malicious activation. Smart+Guard protective cover Smart+Guard, manufactured in the UK by Vimpex, is a tough hinged protective cover Smart+Guard, manufactured in the UK by Vimpex, is a tough hinged protective cover that can be easily installed over a range of emergency switches and other devices to provide protection from vandalism, accidental damage or misuse that can cause unwanted alarms. Misuse of manual call points or pull stations resulting in false or nuisance alarms is a costly and troublesome interruption to business continuity. BS 5839 – The British Standard for Fire Alarm Installations recommends the use of manual call point covers in vulnerable areas to mitigate against false alarms. Vimpex Limited’s Managing Director, James Jones, commented, “When we acquired the SmartGuard range of products and merged production of the range into our operations, we knew there was massive scope for developing the business. This is evidenced by the growing list of high-profile end users now specifying the product for use in their facilities.” Fire alarm and detection systems specialist James adds, “The recent news that Amazon has installed the product into their newest fulfillment center in Bristol is testament to our great levels of customer service and our willingness to go that extra mile for our customers.” Vimpex is Europe’s renowned independent manufacturer and distributor of high quality fire evacuation and alarm system products for installers, distributors and OEM manufacturers. The company is also a specialist in the supply of technical rescue and PPE equipment for UK fire, rescue, police, military and emergency services teams.
Round table discussion
Equipment is an important element in fighting fires, and in keeping firefighters safe. But what new needs are driving the development of equipment? How can equipment expand its role in fighting fires, or in managing building occupancy and traffic flow for that matter? We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the new trends and opportunities in firefighting equipment?
Ensuring the health and wellness of firefighters is a burden shared among equipment manufacturers as well as the fire departments and individual firefighters. Thoughtful design of equipment and other products used in the fire service can be a positive factor as firefighters and other first responders face dangerous situations every day. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What steps can we take to better ensure firefighter health and wellness?