Turnout/Bunker Gear - Expert Commentary

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

More than an outfit. More thought than one leg at a time. Putting on the uniform is not just an ordinary daily task, but a habitual part of preparing for the unexpected. Yes, a firefighter’s uniform is more than an outfit. Think about who is wearing it and the risks they are exposed to on a daily basis. The firefighter comes from a long line of heroes, a brotherhood and sisterhood, with traditions to uphold and a reputation to maintain. Their uniform is no different. Its historical navy-blue threads. Classic, professional appearance. Tactical features. Technology-driven fabric. Over time, the uniform’s engineering has needed to adapt with new designs and react to worsened exposures and more dangerous rescue missions. The 21st Century firefighter’s uniform is unique and specific to the job with current trends fixating on the best user experience while future plans focus on preventative and safety measures due to increased societal and architectural risks. Comfortable firefighter uniform So, what does the 21st Century firefighter want? Comfort. Beyond Personal Protective Equipment, it is an overwhelming plea for a more comfortable uniform to wear. This includes garments that are easy “wash and wear” materials that do not require additional ironing. Firefighters do not want to lose the professional appearance or tactical functionality of the uniform The trend calls for lightweight, breathable, cool-weather wear that is less restrictive and offers more give and more stretch so firefighters can perform their job responsibilities more efficiently. However, they do not want to lose the professional appearance or tactical functionality of the uniform. “We need something that looks presentable every time,” said Chief Robert Burdette of Grand Blanc Fire Department, Michigan. Additionally, more firefighters are also starting to wear polo shirts or mesh T-shirts under their Turnout gear, for a lighter weight, more breathable option from the traditional uniform shirt. The trend calls for lightweight, breathable, cool-weather wear that is less restrictive Risk of cancer Unfortunately, comfort is not the only concern firefighters have when it comes to uniforms, or their safety in general. As risky and demanding of a profession the fire service can be, the fires have proven not to be the most hazardous or life threatening. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, “Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today.” A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that firefighters have a 9% increased chance of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% increased chance to die from cancer compared to the general United States population. Chief Dennis Jenkerson of the St. Louis Fire Department in Missouri is one of many chiefs actively fighting these statistics. Responsible for 32 firehouses, Jenkerson has witnessed the reality of this threat with the loss of four of his own and understands the validity of the situation. For the last 18 months, the St. Louis Fire Department has made headway implementing a drastic culture change by evaluating everything from equipment, apparel, lifestyle and more.  Cancer affecting firefighters “It is so prevalent that everything we do anymore has to do with some emphasis on protecting firefighters from getting cancer,” said Chief Mike Ramm of Sylvania Township Fire Department, Ohio. “Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today” According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, the cancers that have mostly affected firefighters are respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), gastrointestinal (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine) and kidney. “Testicular cancer is through the roof,” added Jenkerson, who has pushed his firefighters to get tested for cancers earlier than normally necessary. He also explained that the imagery of a firefighter drinking from a fire hydrant can no longer happen. He emphasized the importance of cleaning up instantly after every fire. Think of the simple act of removing grimy gloves after a call – at least one hand has been exposed to the cancerous contaminants if it was accidentally used to take off the other glove. If that unwashed, contaminated hand touches food that goes into the mouth of the firefighter, he/she is essentially eating what may cause esophageal, oral cavity or gastric cancers. Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) via the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, cancer caused 61% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from January 1, 2002 to March 31, 2017. Additionally, 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters were because of cancer in 2016. Unfortunately, this hazard is not going away any time soon. The new building materials and new house furnishings have become the culprit for this major concern. These materials are man-made and are not of natural resources. When burned, they create deadly carcinogens that the firefighters are getting exposed to firsthand. Immediate decontamination process Jenkerson’s implementation of a culture change includes an immediate decontamination process following a fire, which involves getting hosed with water, cleansing wipes for all soft tissue areas of the body and an immediate shower back at the station. “Any place you can get a five degree rise in skin temperature, the absorption level goes up 10 times,” Jenkerson warned. His firefighters are instructed to remove their bunker gear, uniform, helmet and all other equipment right away that get immediately washed once they have returned to the station. Hems, collars, cuffs and cargo pockets are areas of the uniform where toxins get caught He also restricts all firefighters and EMTs from going on a second run until they have showered and have put on a new, clean set of clothes, all the way down to their underwear. “There are no two-runs. We have to get this stuff off [of them].” Uniform manufacturers are tasked with finding a solution to help facilitate Jenkerson’s and other Fire Chiefs’ visions by designing a uniform with as little gaps and fold-over materials as possible. “Everything needs to be sealed tight,” Jenkerson explained. Hems, collars, cuffs and cargo pockets are all areas of the uniform where toxins get caught. A lightweight shirt option that offers a crew collar with a two to three button placket and a lightweight, ventilated hidden cargo pant could be the future of fire uniforms. “There isn’t another profession that has the thousands of dangers that we have every day,” Ramm explained. Additional and ongoing efforts currently underway according to the NFPA Journal, include those by the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, the Congressional Firefighter Cancer Registry, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the FPRF Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control, and the International Association of Firefighters. Active shooter emergency response Firefighters and EMTs increasingly need to wear bullet proof vests with the surge in active shooter calls An additional and unfortunate trend that is also sweeping the nation is the need for firefighters and EMTs to wear bullet proof vests. Departments are trying their best to arm their men and women with this protection along with ballistic helmets in certain regions due to the surge in active shooter calls. “In areas that have a lot of gang-related activity, [bullet proof vests] would be beneficial,” said Jason Reyes of Allen Fire Department, Texas. “Sometimes you go on calls when the city doesn’t have enough police to respond to calls, which creates a situation that leaves firefighters unprotected and vulnerable.” Currently the market has ballistic vests available that can either be worn over or under a firefighter’s uniform and under their bunker gear. Uniform manufacturers also offer an external vest carrier option that is worn over a firefighter’s uniform to look like part of the uniform shirt to maintain a professional appearance. Distinguishing firefighters from law enforcement “Firefighters find themselves becoming targets more and more these days,” added Deputy Chief of Operations Dwayne Jamison of Bartow County Fire Department, Georgia. “Many departments, including my own, are looking to outfit their firefighters with bullet proof vests.” Although this trend has not affected every region, industry experts can see the need becoming more widespread if threats continue to increase the way they have been. Along the same lines, firefighters want to be identified as firefighters and not mistaken for law enforcement. “We don’t want to look like police,” Jenkerson said. “We want to be identified as firefighters. Even if it takes a different stripe.” When it comes to uniform trends for firefighters, it is clear there is more to focus on than the technical details. For many fire departments, future trends could serve as a tool to prevent deadly toxins from being absorbed and from lethal bullets puncturing unprotected firefighters and EMTs. The uniform is more than an outfit. With a larger purpose than to shield a body, the uniform goes beyond the navy-blue threads, professional appearance and tactical features to one day supporting what could be a lifesaving concept. Sources Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Preventing Cancer in the Fire Service National Fire Protection Association,  Firefighters and Cancer NFPA Journal, Fast Track: Some of the national efforts underway to fight cancer in the fire service; Roman, Jesse; 2017 

Airport Firefighting & Emergency Rescue – A Day In The Life Of A Firefighter
Airport Firefighting & Emergency Rescue – A Day In The Life Of A Firefighter

  Airport firefighters operate very differently to their municipal fire and rescue colleagues For the thousands of firefighters covering over 80 major commercial airports throughout Europe, life is very different from that experienced by their municipal fire and rescue service colleagues. The differences range from the type of regime they experience to the types of emergency they are called upon to deal with on a daily basis. Richard Cranham, Business Development Manager at Bristol Uniforms Ltd, explains more. Airports with scheduled passenger services range from the largest international airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Paris, Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt, to some of the smallest, which include those serving smaller communities in Scandinavia and the Highlands & Islands Airports group in Scotland with 10 locations spread across some of the most inaccessible parts of the country. BAA (formerly The British Airports Authority) is the largest airport operator in the UK with 7 locations and employing over 450 firefighters at their sites at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. An airport firefighter's typical day Unlike their municipal counterparts, airport firefighters are required to cover all types of emergencies within the airport boundaries with many of the incidents unrelated to aircraft accidents or fires. Major aircraft accidents are very rare thanks to strict safety regulations and major improvements in aircraft design and build.   Airport firefighters must cover all emergencies within airport boundaries - including incidents unrelated to aircraft accidents or fires In many locations the fire services work closely with the ambulance and other emergency services dealing with all types of accidents including traffic incidents, vehicle fires, and fire alarms across the sites as well as being placed on standby whenever a pilot alerts traffic control to any type of malfunction which could present a safety hazard on landing. The most frequent incidents affecting jet aircraft involve overheating of undercarriages, wheels, tyres and brakes as well as engine problems, which although uncommon, nevertheless require putting into action major emergency standby routines. Station Officer at Bristol International Airport, Rich Lynn, who has 48 firefighters on station explained that his team is required to cover all emergencies on site including those involving buildings, vehicles and aircraft-related incidents. "We provide emergency cover for all 11 buildings on the airport site as well as dealing with aircraft-related emergencies. Although we have very few aircraft fires the main potential areas for fire are overheating sub-assemblies, wheels and brakes and any ruptures in hydraulic lines which work at high pressure and could easily cause a fire in contact with hot metal. Carbon fibre braking systems and fans on wheels on modern aircraft have greatly reduced the fire hazard." A plane coming in to land at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam   Chief Fire Officer at Schiphol Airport, Michel Wendel, explained that his firefighters are called upon to deal not only with aviation related incidents, but many others in and around the Schiphol area which are more closely related to normal fire duty callouts. On average there are in the region of 50 aviation related incidents annually with several hundred other callouts for various fire and other related hazards during the year around the large Schiphol site. Although the airport only has one terminal building, this is split into three large departure halls serving the 6 runways which range in length from over 2km to 3.8km. The most recent runway to be built was completed in 2003 and there are already plans to add a seventh in the near future. Schiphol is the world's lowest major airport being 3 metres below sea level. Schiphol has a good air traffic accident record. The last major fire was in October 2005 and was non-aviation related. A fire broke out at the airport's detention centre, killing 11 people and injuring 15. The complex was holding 350 people at the time of the incident. The last aviation accident occurred over 12 years ago when a Saab 340 operated by KLM Cityhopper returned to Schiphol because the crew mistakenly believed that the engine suffered from low oil pressure because of a faulty warning light. On final approach, at a height of 90 feet, the plane stalled and hit the ground. Of the twenty-four people on board, three were killed including the captain. Nine others were seriously injured.   Fires caused by burning aviation fuel require special skills - training is a regular part of the airport firefighter's working life Airport firefighter training Even though the call to action to fight fires may come infrequently, the special characteristics of hot fires caused by burning aviation fuel need special skills. Training is a regular and frequent part of the firefighter's working life. At Schiphol, training is carried out on a daily basis. There are 125 full time firefighters on station who all work shifts of 3 teams over 24 hours. The size of the airport complex is such that the firefighters operate out of 3 fire stations - Rijk, Sloten and Vijfhuizen - which are located around the site.   A Manchester airport firefighter training in the cab of a plane   Michel Wendel gave details saying, "Firefighter training is carried out at the main station, Sloten, on a daily basis. Firefighters are on rotational duty at Sloten and their training is undertaken when they are on main station duty. Normally training sessions last about 4 hours. A range of training is carried out including simulated fire fighting on a Boeing 747 test rig with a computer-controlled gas fire." Gerard Montgomery, Senior Airport Fire Officer at Gatwick, has 80 firefighters on location including himself and a deputy. His team is responsible for dealing with all site emergencies and shares daytime callouts with the ambulance service. With responding to all fire alarms and traffic accidents at Gatwick his crew handle around 2,500 callouts annually. On training Gerard explained, "We carry out training on a weekly basis on an LPG Boeing 747 aircraft simulator. This would involve a number of fire scenarios and also provides training for breathing apparatus, hose management and ladder work. We are also acquiring a fire behaviour simulator which will provide carbonaceous fire scenarios. The new unit was installed in the summer of 2006." Firefighter clothing: emphasis on lighter weight, wearer comfort Most, if not all, airports use a selection procedure for purchasing firefighter Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which routinely involves trialling samples of kit from several manufacturers. The alternatives are inspected and supplied to firefighters to carry out wearer trials. Selection is based on a number of criteria including wearer comfort, durability, price, sizing and availability of stock. A number of airport fire teams are being, or have been, re-equipped over the past 2-3 years giving them the opportunity to take advantage of the new lighter weight firefighter clothing being introduced to the market which provide greater wearer comfort and reduce heat stress associated with prolonged periods of wear. There is also growing interest in adopting managed care services as a means of providing regular inspection, washing and repair. Richard Cranham - Business Development Manager, Bristol Uniforms Ltd

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Fire & Rescue New South Wales Places Second Order For MSA And Pac Fire Australia’s XFlex Range Of Structural PPE
Fire & Rescue New South Wales Places Second Order For MSA And Pac Fire Australia’s XFlex Range Of Structural PPE

Following the successful delivery of more than 5,000 sets of high-quality structural firefighting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from globally renowned specialist PPE manufacturer, MSA Bristol (MSA Safety Incorporated) and its Australian distributor, Pac Fire Australia (Pac Fire), Australia’s Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) fire service has continued with their roll out and expect to have an additional 5,000 sets of structural PPE delivered by June 2021. The expectation is that Fire & Rescue New South Wales will be able to complete the rollout of structural PPE to all of its 6,500 firefighters by December 2021. Fire & Rescue New South Wales Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) is one of the world’s renowned urban fire and rescue services Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) is one of the world’s renowned urban fire and rescue services and the busiest fire service in Australia, with more than 6,500 firefighters spread across 335 fire stations and attending close to 120,000 call outs per year. An extensive evaluation and wearer trial carried out in 2019 led to FRNSW selecting MSA Bristol’s popular XFlex ensemble for its PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) upgrade. MSA Bristol is a renowned designer and manufacturer of protective clothing and equipment for emergency services across the globe, formed by the recent acquisition of Bristol Uniforms by MSA Safety Incorporated. XFlex range of structural PPE Its XFlex range of structural PPE has been ergonomically designed with sports styling and lightweight fabrics, providing advanced comfort and protection. The unique fabric combination consists of Safety Components Nomex 360, combined with a GORE PARALLON liner system, which provides unparalleled levels of breathability while preventing drops in thermal protection.  On taking delivery of the new kit, Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) Commissioner, Paul Baxter said, “These new uniforms are heavy-duty but lightweight, allowing for enhanced maneuverability and coverage, and will be supplied in a wider range of male and female sizes, so all firefighters will have better fitting garments. They also feature a customized moisture barrier, which helps prevent steam burns and keeps firefighters dry while on the job.” Service information on UHF-RFID chip fitted to PPE Service information, such as garment specifics, is assigned to a unique UHF-RFID chip fitted within the item Pac Fire Australia (Pac Fire) is one of Australasia’s renowned suppliers of personal protective equipment to the fire and emergency industry. Its specialized roll-out of the XFlex range of PPE ensembles to the Fire & Rescue New South Wales has included the allocation of each item to a specific firefighter. Service information, such as garment specifics, date of issue and firefighter information, is assigned to a unique UHF-RFID chip fitted within the item. This process allows garments to interact with inventory management and laundry systems, tracking physical location and the condition of the item, throughout its service life. Advanced fabric technology offers optimum protection Paul Clark, Business Development Manager (BDM) for Pac Fire Australia said, “The XFlex design with its distinctive sports styling has proved particularly popular with the firefighters, offering greater flexibility and reduced resistance when carrying out physical tasks, as well as providing optimum protection thanks to the advanced fabric technology.” Roger Startin, Joint Managing Director at MSA Bristol (MSA Safety Incorporated) said, “The roll-out of the first order went very smoothly, despite the challenges of the global pandemic, and all garments were delivered to schedule. It’s great to see the New South Wales firefighters in action in their new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and we’re delighted to be following this up by providing a further 4,500 sets of structural PPE this year.”

MSA Safety Announces The Acquisition Of U.K. Firefighter Turnout Gear Manufacturer Bristol Uniforms
MSA Safety Announces The Acquisition Of U.K. Firefighter Turnout Gear Manufacturer Bristol Uniforms

Global safety equipment manufacturer MSA Safety Incorporated announced it has acquired U.K.-based Bristol Uniforms (“Bristol”) in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $60 million. The acquisition strengthens MSA's position as a global provider of fire service PPE products while providing an avenue to expand its business in the U.K. and key European markets. Headquartered in Bristol, U.K., Bristol Uniforms is a renowned innovator and provider of protective apparel to the fire and rescue services sector, with annual revenue of approximately $40 million. The company has earned a reputation for providing high-quality turnout gear that combines innovative designs with advanced materials. Bristol Uniforms employs nearly 200 people across four U.K. locations. keeping firefighters safe “Helping to keep firefighters safe has been a longstanding element of the MSA mission,” said Nish Vartanian, MSA Chairman, President and CEO. “The acquisition of Bristol advances that mission as well as our growth strategy to protect firefighters from head to toe with the very best in safety technology,” he said. Today’s acquisition reflects the confidence we have in our team’s ability to quickly integrate Bristol into the MSA portfolio" Mr. Vartanian said the transaction builds on the success MSA has had in improving the overall performance of its International business segment. “Our entire International team, and particularly our associates in Europe, have done a terrific job over the past three years building a more agile, efficient, and growth-focused organization. Today’s acquisition reflects the confidence we have in our team’s ability to quickly integrate Bristol into the MSA portfolio. It also recognizes the progress our team in Europe has made in executing MSA’s overall vision for growth,” he said. corporate development activities MSA Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ken Krause, who leads the company’s corporate development activities, commented that the acquisition comes at an exciting time for MSA and its fire service business. “The fire service is a strategic market for us that has performed well through a broad range of economic cycles, including the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Bringing Bristol under the MSA umbrella builds on our 2017 acquisition of U.S. turnout gear leader Globe, while adding another defensive element to our portfolio and providing us with an opportunity to expand MSA’s addressable market in the International segment. With MSA’s global reach and Bristol’s strong brand equity, we’re confident in our ability to reach key geographic markets and make the Bristol brand even more successful.” global utilities market Mr. Krause added that the acquisition aligns with the company’s disciplined approach for capital deployment Mr. Krause added that the acquisition aligns with the company’s disciplined approach for capital deployment. He also noted that Bristol is expected to hurdle MSA’s cost of capital by year three. Excluding acquisition-related amortization, the company is planning for adjusted earnings accretion of $0.03-$0.05 per share in the first twelve months of ownership. Bristol Uniforms is also a global manufacturer of flame-retardant, waterproof, and other protective workwear for the utility industry. Marketed under the Bell Apparel brand, this line complements MSA’s existing and broad range of offerings for the global utilities market. Complete firefighter protection Bristol Deputy Chairman Ian Mitchell commented, “We see today’s acquisition as a great fit for both our organizations. From a product synergy perspective, Bristol Uniforms aligns with MSA’s existing portfolio, enhances our reach into the global turnout gear market, and it gives us new opportunities to serve our customer base with a broader range of head-to-toe firefighter protection.” Mr. Mitchell added, “Culturally, MSA and Bristol are very well-aligned, and we are excited about today’s news as we see this acquisition as a great match for both Bristol and for MSA.” The fire service equipment brands of MSA, which include Gallet Firefighter Helmets, the M1 and G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus range, Cairns Helmets, Globe Manufacturing, and now Bristol Uniforms, represent more than 460 combined years of innovation in the fire service industry, with one common mission: protecting the health and safety of firefighters.

MSA Safety Acquires U.K. Firefighter Turnout Gear Manufacturer Bristol Uniforms
MSA Safety Acquires U.K. Firefighter Turnout Gear Manufacturer Bristol Uniforms

MSA Safety Incorporated announced it has acquired U.K.-based Bristol Uniforms in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $60 million. The acquisition strengthens MSA's position as a front-runner in fire service PPE products while providing an avenue to expand its business in the U.K. and key European markets. Headquartered in Bristol, U.K., Bristol Uniforms is a foremost innovator and provider of protective apparel to the fire and rescue services sector, with annual revenue of approximately $40 million. The company has earned a reputation for providing high-quality turnout gear that combines innovative designs with advanced materials. Bristol Uniforms employs nearly 200 people across four U.K. locations. Protecting firefighters The integration of Bristol into the MSA portfolio advances to protect firefighters with the very best in safety technology"Helping to keep firefighters safe has been a longstanding element of the MSA mission," said Nish Vartanian, MSA Chairman, President and CEO. "The acquisition of Bristol advances that mission as well as our growth strategy to protect firefighters from head to toe with the very best in safety technology," he said. Mr. Vartanian said the transaction builds on the success MSA has had in improving the overall performance of its International business segment. "Our entire International team, and particularly our associates in Europe, have done a terrific job over the past three years building a more agile, efficient, and growth-focused organization. Today's acquisition reflects the confidence we have in our team's ability to quickly integrate Bristol into the MSA portfolio. It also recognizes the progress our team in Europe has made in executing MSA's overall vision for growth," he said. Growing in the international segment MSA Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ken Krause, who leads the company's corporate development activities, commented that the acquisition comes at an exciting time for MSA and its fire service business. "The fire service is a strategic market for us that has performed well through a broad range of economic cycles, including the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "Bringing Bristol under the MSA umbrella builds on our 2017 acquisition of U.S. turnout gear leader Globe while adding another defensive element to our portfolio and providing us with an opportunity to expand MSA's addressable market in the International segment. With MSA's global reach and Bristol's strong brand equity, we're confident in our ability to reach key geographic markets and make the Bristol brand even more successful." Capital deployment Mr. Krause added that the acquisition aligns with the company's disciplined approach for capital deployment. He also noted that Bristol is expected to hurdle MSA's cost of capital by year three. Excluding acquisition-related amortization, the company is planning for adjusted earnings accretion of $0.03-$0.05 per share in the first twelve months of ownership. New opportunities and a broader range Bristol Uniforms aligns with MSA's existing portfolio to enhance the reach into the global turnout gear marketBristol Uniforms is also a foremost manufacturer of flame-retardant, waterproof, and other protective workwear for the utility industry. Marketed under the Bell Apparel brand, this line complements MSA's existing and broad range of offerings for the global utilities market. Bristol Deputy Chairman Ian Mitchell commented, "We see today's acquisition as a great fit for both our organizations. From a product synergy perspective, Bristol Uniforms aligns with MSA's existing portfolio, enhances our reach into the global turnout gear market, and it gives us new opportunities to serve our customer base with a broader range of head-to-toe firefighter protection." Mr. Mitchell added, "Culturally, MSA and Bristol are very well-aligned, and we are excited about today's news as we see this acquisition as a great match for both Bristol and for MSA." Health and safety of firefighters The fire service equipment brands of MSA, which include Gallet Firefighter Helmets, the M1 and G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus range, Cairns Helmets, Globe Manufacturing, and now Bristol Uniforms, represent more than 460 combined years of innovation in the fire service industry, with one common mission: protecting the health and safety of firefighters.

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