Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Innovators in fire technology, Geofire, launches the Deaf Alert, a safety device for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Deaf Alert is a digital, vibrating pillow alarm that uses ‘listening’ technology to activate on the specific sound of a home smoke alarm. Geofire has manufactured fire safety products in the UK since 1972. The Deaf Alert will join the Agrippa acoustic product line which includes the battery powered fire door holder and closer. Working smoke alarm The acoustic tech...
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...
Asolvi, Europe’s provider of field service and contract management software, announces that it has agreed to acquire TIVAPP, the German field service solution for the fire protection and security sector. TIVAPP is a specialist service, inventory, test documentation and billing software solution, developed by fire prevention professionals. Founded in Germany, the company has over 20 years of experience in the sector. During that time, TIVAPP has built up a customer base and established its...
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...
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...
Adapting workspaces to operate safely during a pandemic presents complications, not least of which is making sure that the measures taken to protect employees from infection do not undermine fire safety. In the course of altering a building to prevent infection spread, there are risks of introducing new life safety hazards and compromising emergency preparedness. As buildings adapt to new occupancy standards and requirements, it is critical that any protective measures do not interfere with ope...
The Dutch Army has recently completed a live-fire counter-drone trial using Smart Shooter's SMASH Fire Control System. Soldiers from all branches of the Dutch army, including the Air Force, Special Forces, and Marines, attended the trial, which was done in close co-operation with Smart Shooter Dutch Partner, TBM bv. The trial took place at the site of the knowledge center for weapons and ammunition in ‘t Harde. Most of the soldiers were introduced to the system for the first time the morning of the trial, and used it on a Colt 5,56 assault rifle to shoot down different kinds of drones from up to 150 meters. The test was successful, and the system proved to be very effective as all targets were shot down and eliminated. SMASH is a combat-proven Fire Control solution for small arms that ensures each round finds its target. Fire Control System With a unique "One Shot - One Hit" capability, SMASH allows the operator to quickly and effectively neutralize any ground or airborne target, manned or unmanned. It is a cost-effective solution that can be integrated onto any type of assault rifle and combined with other c-UAS systems, to provide an effective multi-layer defense solution suitable for the modern battlefield. Michal Mor, SMART SHOOTER CEO: "We are honored that the Dutch Army has decided to let its soldiers test and experiment with our systems, and are confident that the SMASH Fire Control System is an ideal hard-kill solution against the growing worldwide threat of UASs. Smart Shooter's SMASH systems are already in operational use by different defense forces, providing great results against ground, aerial, static or moving targets, and increasing the accuracy and lethality of small arms".
For the honor of wildland firefighters who risk it all to protect the forests and natural resources. KIMTEK is proud to introduce the Ford Motor Company Bronco-Filson Wild Fire Vehicle which features the KIMTEK FIRELITE® Fire Rescue skid unit that includes a Darley-Davey Pump, Hannay Reel, and Mercedes Boostlite Forestry Hose. KIMTEK is excited about this collaboration between Ford, Filson and KIMTEK and more excited to see the formation of the Bronco Wild Fund to celebrate wildland firefighters and to help raise awareness and funds to assist in preserving America's Natural Resources and National Forests. KIMTEK thanks Ford Motor Company and Filson for choosing and trusting the design quality of the FIRELITE Transport skids manufactured by KIMTEK Corporation.
CU First Responders Finance (CUFR) is excited to welcome Nashville Firemen’s Credit Union to their Referral Credit Union program. CUFR’s business lending program provides the avenue for first responder credit unions to refer commercial real estate, apparatus, equipment, and other business loans for potential funding. Nashville Firemen’s Credit Union is happy to collaborate with other first responder credit unions to offer its membership business services through CUFR. The referring credit union gets business loans on their books and the lead lender earns points and a portion of quality loans. First responder credit unions Additionally, there is an opportunity to sell a portion of the loan back to the referring credit union. Nashville Firemen's Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative. It is owned and managed by the membership who share a common bond. Membership is available to the Nashville Fire Department and their immediate family members. Retirees of NFD are welcome to join as well! Membership information and current rates may be obtained by calling. CU First Responder Finance is a partnership between the National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions and Biz Lending & Insurance Center, Inc. Their mission is to develop commercial real estate marketing and business lending programs specifically designed for first responder credit unions.
Rockland Custom Products, a pioneer in first responder health and safety solutions, announces that they have released their long-awaited UVC Germicidal Light for their Patented Gear Clear Venting System®. Prestigious fire departments With hundreds already sold and in use in many of the nation's most prestigious fire departments, the Gear Clear Venting System® has been protecting firefighters and their passengers from the harmful effects of toxic off-gassing emitted from their soiled turnout gear through its highly-effective active ventilation system. The addition of the UVC Light now allows Gear Clear to eliminate germs and contaminants The addition of the UVC Light now allows Gear Clear to eliminate germs and contaminants on the surfaces inside the cabinet as well. The added dangers first responders face from exposure to viruses, bacteria, and mold are especially concerning to the brave men and women who were already worried about exposure to the toxic, cancer-causing carcinogens at emergency scenes. UVC germicidal Light The Gear Clear Venting System® with UVC Germicidal Light will assist in the further reduction of toxins that can harm firefighters and first responders transporting their soiled gear back to the fire house or to their homes. Studies have shown that UVC lights can eliminate many types of pathogens, including fungi, bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, and more. The Gear Clear UVC Germicidal Light is available immediately on single Gear Clear units as well as Gear Clear command cabinet configurations. The UVC light can also be purchased separately and installed into existing Gear Clear models.
Valuation and home survey processes were previously insufficient to establish whether or not external cladding on high-rise buildings [over 18 m height] contains combustible material and therefore would facilitate the spread of fire. Following the Grenfell tragedy and subsequent MHCLG [Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government] guidance, RICS [Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors] along with UKF [UK Finance] and BSA [Building Societies Association] developed so-called EWS-1 forms as a means of enabling competent fire experts to assess whether these buildings are fire-safe and if not, to identify that remedial work needs to be carried out. High rise buildings The provision of EWS-1 forms has proved successful in creating a clear and consistent means by which the market understands the documentation required to support the buying, selling or re-mortgaging of properties in high rise buildings. While the EWS-1 form has been downloaded from the RICS website over 8,000 times, there remain some key issues to be resolved in order to create a fully reliable and accessible process for the upload and retrieval of these forms. The FIA has stepped in to meet this requirement. In consultation with MHCLG and in collaboration with RICS and other stakeholders including lenders and insurers, it has developed a unique portal that will provide a central readily-accessible location for EWS-1 forms and, for the first time, the ability for Fire Engineers to complete the forms on-line. Identifying remedial actions A rigorous approach has been applied to the portal to include manual checks at various stages of the process This meets an increasingly urgent need for property sellers and buyers, insurers and mortgage lenders to easily access for free and in one specific location the information they need in order for transactions involving properties in high rise buildings to proceed as normal post-Grenfell as well as identifying any remedial actions that must be taken on these buildings in respect of external cladding. Of especial importance is the need to prevent fraudulent activity relating to EWS-1 forms which regrettably has been identified in the market and which can place lives at risk. A rigorous approach has been applied to the portal to include manual checks at various stages of the process. Each Fire Engineer wishing to submit forms must present evidence that they are fully qualified and competent to do so and this is interrogated prior to enabling their forms to be submitted to the portal. Advanced stage of development In addition, all existing forms and on-line submissions are subject to further checks to determine their validity before they appear as publicly-available documents. In this way, we would expect to eliminate the problem of fraudulent EWS-1 forms appearing in the market. Registration and uploading of EWS1 forms will cost a small fee to cover the validating work involved The FIA is fully-funding the building of this portal and has employed software specialists to create an effective, efficient and user-friendly web site that has been approved by the RICS Forum. Registration and uploading of EWS1 forms will cost a small fee to cover the validating work involved, but access to them by the public will be free. The web site is currently in an advanced stage of development and is expected to be fully functional as a public service by mid-November. fire safety training The FIA is the largest fire protection trade association in Europe with over 900 members, a not-for-profit organization that is a major provider of fire safety training. Its objective is to promote, improve and perfect fire protection methods, devices, services and apparatus and achieves this through the representation of its members and providing technical support, guidance and opportunities for professional advancement through education and appropriate regulation. It promotes and shapes legislation and the professional standards of the fire industry through close liaison with government and official bodies as well as other key stakeholders and also provides funding for research projects in line with its principal objectives.
Life-safety systems manufacturer, C-TEC, has created a new Evacuation Alert Systems video. Aimed at anyone involved in residential fire safety, the animated video shows exactly how Evacuation Alert Systems can be used to assist the Fire and Rescue Services evacuate all or part of a high-rise residential building in an emergency situation. Engaging, educational and fast-moving, the video highlights how devices in individual flats can be programmed to evacuate residents on a zone by zone basis in an emergency should stay put/defend in place fail. Evacuation alert systems Said Andy Green, C-TEC’s Marketing Manager: “New recommendations in the Grenfell Tower Enquiry Report and the new BS 8629 code of practice for evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats means the demand for evacuation alert systems is rising.” “Our new 2-minute video provides an excellent overview of why, where and how they are used and is timed to coincide with the launch of EVAC-ALERT, a new evacuation alert system specifically designed by C-TEC to meet the requirements of BS 8629.”
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.
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.
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are expanding their usefulness in the arenas of firefighting and fire prevention, whether in a downtown business district or in fire-prone wildlands. Among other benefits, drones can provide situational awareness, guide emergency response, and perform dangerous duties while keeping fire personnel safe. Drones provide a new solution for extinguishing fires in high-rise buildings, which can occur beyond the reach of fire nozzles and rescue ladders. Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) manufacturer EHang has announced a large-payload intelligent aerial firefighting solution for high-rise buildings. Urban fire stations With a maximum flight altitude of 600 meters (1968 feet), the EHang 216F can carry up to 150 liters (40 gallons) of firefighting foams and six fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip. A visible-light zoom camera on EHang can quickly identify the location of a fire. The vehicle then hovers precisely in position and uses a laser aiming device to shoot (in succession) a window breaker, the fire extinguishing ‘bombs’ and then a full-range spray of firefighting foam. The EHang 216F devices are expected to be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting within a 5km (3-mile) radius. Autopilot and centralized management technologies enable a fleet of the vehicles to be remotely dispatched for first response even before firefighters arrive. Multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish a larger fire. EHang 216F devices are expected to be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting Fighting and preventing wildfires Drones are also finding multiple uses when it comes to fighting and preventing wildfires. One application is to drop self-igniting ‘dragon eggs’ that spark smaller fires to trim back overgrown forests and help prevent more destructive megafires. The dragon egg system is made up of self-igniting plastic spheres – about the size of a ping-pong ball. Dragon eggs have been an industry standard for years, usually dropped from planes or helicopters The spheres are filled with potassium permanganate powder and injected with glycol as an igniter just as they are being dropped. The reaction sets the balls ablaze after about 30 seconds, which is enough time for them to bounce to the ground through a forest canopy. Controlling the size and scope of a managed fire is simply a matter of how many balls are dropped. Dragon eggs have been an industry standard for years, usually dropped from planes or helicopters. Manned aviation activities Drones provide a new approach, directed the U.S. Department of Interior and the Forest Service. In effect, unmanned aircraft are being used to battle larger wildfires by setting smaller ones first. Another use of drones to set fires involves use of ‘flamethrower’ technology. The drone carries gasoline and shoots a steady stream of fire at vegetation or other targets. Aerial ignition using drones is aimed at supplementing manned aviation activities, not replace them, according to the Forest Service. In fact, there is a strong desire in the fire community to convert some of the missions to unmanned systems, considering the possible dangers involved. Drones can also fly better after dark and in dangerous, smoky conditions. Disaster response strategies The maps were used by search-and-rescue teams to spot missing persons in the area Directing disaster response strategies and mapping the type and location of wildfire destruction are additional missions for drones in firefighting. After California’s deadly Camp Fire in 2018, drones were used on 518 different mapping flights through smoky conditions and collected 1.4 trillion pixels of data, which were stitched together into maps of the destruction. The maps were used by search-and-rescue teams to spot missing persons in the area. Neighborhood homeowners could submit the imagery to insurance providers for rapid claims processing. The images also facilitated access to FEMA relief funds. Assess danger levels The benefits of unmanned vehicles have become obvious in the wake of out-of-control wildfires in Northern California and other Western states. Drones are particularly useful given how fast forest fires can get out of control and the danger to pilots and crew. Drones can be critical during the brief window of time between when a fire starts and when it gets out of control. Situational awareness from drones can help fire crews know how to respond, including the type and amount of resources needed. Drones can also assess danger levels and help to keep crews safe and going in the right direction.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new health challenges for firefighters, but it is far from the first major health concern in the fire service. For example, the risk of various cancers is up to twice as high among firefighters, and cancer causes 61 percent of line-of-duty deaths for firefighters. There are other health and safety concerns, too, from nutrition and fitness to vehicle safety and seat belt usage, from wellness to stress and trauma (and consequent issues of addiction). Supporting fire services Cultural issues are a driving force in managing the gamut of health and safety concerns for firefighters. Changing the mindset of firefighters about safety issues is critical to meaningful progress. It starts with awareness. COVID-19 may be the newest and most recent health concern, and addressing it has been a high priority. However, even long-term and well-known health threats in the fire service are not being adequately addressed. Dräger found that some 84% of respondents admitted they were concerned about the risk of cancer Medical and safety technology provider Dräger, based in Lübeck, Germany, has launched a ‘Health for the Firefighter’ campaign to raise awareness and to support fire services in driving the necessary cultural changes to protect firefighter health. In a survey of United Kingdom firefighters, Dräger found that some 84% of respondents admitted they were concerned about the risk of cancer, which can be caused by embedded carcinogens in any equipment that can be absorbed by men and women using it. Robust hygiene processes “The COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing fears over cancer, have highlighted the critical importance of hygiene, and a significant cultural change is required,” says Brian Hesler, a consultant and specialist advisor at Dräger Safety UK and a former chief fire officer. “We need to move away from firefighters wearing dirty kit like a badge of honor that proves their hard work and value, to understand that clean and well-maintained kit supported by detailed and robust hygiene processes are essential to mitigate every contact with contaminants.” Dräger’s Health for the Firefighter campaign will support the fire services in communicating and providing training on the importance of detailed hygiene processes, from handling and storage of masks and breathing apparatus (BA) equipment through to the subsequent cleaning of the kit after an incident has occurred. Enabling fire services Manual cleaning of equipment is still generally the norm within UK fire services. In the Dräger survey, 80% agreed that a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is more emphasis on cleaning equipment and hygiene control, although only 23% said the pandemic significantly changes their approach to cleaning equipment. Dräger has launched solutions for cleaning breathing apparatus, respiratory masks and PPE equipment Consistency is often a problem with manual cleaning, and Dräger has launched solutions for cleaning breathing apparatus, respiratory masks and PPE equipment that reduce the risk of carcinogen contamination within emergency teams. The equipment is provided in partnership with Harstra Instruments, a Dutch manufacturer of cleaning and drying equipment. The Dräger package of solutions comprises cleaning products, logistical support and consultancy services to enable fire services to mitigate firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens. Equipment handling operations Washing machines clean using high-pressure water, drying cabinets are available in various shapes and sizes, and testing facilities ensure products are decontaminated. “Employers owe their employees a duty of care and are therefore looking to provide additional protection during training, post-incident and in day-to-day equipment handling operations,” says Andy Taylor, UK Marketing Manager for Engineered Solutions at Dräger. Cleaning equipment is just one of many ways fire departments can address the health challenges for firefighters. Departments depend on regulations and policies designed to ensure the highest degrees of personal health and safety. For departments, prevention and reduction of accidents, injuries and occupational illnesses should be a way of life. The ‘Health for the Firefighter’ campaign can serve as a reminder of the importance of creating a culture of good health for firefighters.
Should firefighters and other first responders be exempt from requirements that they wear face masks to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? The City Council of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seems to think so. They are proposing an amendment to exempt first responders from complying with the city’s face mask ordinance. Amendment to Exempt first responders from face mask rule Specifically, the proposed amendment states, “Exempted from the requirements of the ordinance requiring wearing of face coverings include law enforcement personnel, first responders or other workers, who are actively engaged in their tasks, if wearing a face covering may hinder their performance.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear masks in public settings The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear masks in public settings, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained. The CDC does not specify a need to exempt first responders. However, there is a possibility that a mask could interfere with the work of firefighters or first responders, especially when they are performing tasks that require physical exertion. Face masks can inhibit communication among first responders Face masks, covering the mouth and nose, could also inhibit communication by muffling sound and obstructing facial expressions. Obviously, communication is of paramount importance for firemen working as a team in an emergency, or when a first responder is seeking to give clear directions to the public. The issue of face masks has been inexorably entwined with the well-being of first responders, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on during the infection spread, health officials dismissed face masks as a tool to avoid spread of the disease. They said that the masks were ineffective at preventing community spread and that, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to be conserved for health professionals and first responders. Importance of face masks in controlling spread of COVID-19 However, the early advice was completely reversed in late March 2020 and masks have been advocated ever since. A mask, worn by an infected individual, reduces the dispersion of virus-laden droplets that spread the disease. Now, experts contend that any type of mask, including cloth or paper, can help to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus. Expanding the use of masks to include those that are not conformant with the N-95 classification effectively eliminated any concerns about supply and helped to make the widespread use of masks the norm. To some extent, however, mask usage in the United States has been politicized and some see the requirements as an affront to liberty. Need for wearing face masks in public Masks are a useful preventative measure for firefighters working together in a communal area Fire and emergency departments face the same challenges as other businesses and institutions, as they seek to remain safe in a communal workspace. Masks are a useful preventative measure for firefighters working together in a communal area or when training or resting. Wearing masks in public also allows departments to model best practices and promote a positive perception of the department to the public. Disciplined use of face masks demonstrates unselfishness and respect for others. It communicates professionalism and concern for the greater good. Masks go a long way in saving lives of first responders Perception may also be an issue when it comes to the choice of masks, which become a de facto part of a uniform. Masks with political statements should be avoided, for example. Considering that dozens of American fire and EMS members have died of COVID-19 infection, since March 2020, the use of masks is another way that firefighters can work to save lives. However, sufficient flexibility is needed so that the use of masks does not interfere with other lifesaving duties.
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.”
Bryx, a globally renowned provider of first responder technology products, will be installing its Bryx Station alerting system just 25 miles west of Orlando, Florida, at Groveland Fire Department. Fire Alert device installation Bryx’s installation will follow Groveland Fire Department’s move into its new headquarters in the brand new public safety building in early 2021. The Bryx Station system is also being installed at the nearby Station 94, with an anticipated third installation later next year. The three installations further expand the company’s mobile and station alerting presence in Florida, complementing their recently awarded contract in North Port. Bryx Station alerting system Bryx Station is a full-featured alerting system that connects fire departments and EMS agencies around the globe Bryx Station is a full-featured alerting system that connects fire departments and EMS agencies around the globe, providing immediate alerts, full station automation, and improves response times. When a call comes in, the Bryx Station control unit alerts the house with heart-smart ramping tones, color-changing lights, and text-to-speech readouts. The system can perform tasks such as turning off stoves, opening and closing bay doors, and securing the building, thereby automating the tasks that first responders have little time to complete. Works in coordination with Bryx 911 mobile app The Bryx Station alerting system works hand-in-hand with the company’s free mobile alerting and messaging application, Bryx 911. Brynx’s data-driven team develops innovative technology that helps firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders work faster, smoother, and smarter. The company’s free Bryx 911 mobile app and robust Bryx Station alerting system offer unrivaled alerting, messaging, and communications tools for first responders. Both simple and powerful, Bryx’s patented and innovative solutions are proven to save time where time matters most.
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
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?