Hands are precious – keep them safe with gloves

From holding your baby to lifting a cuppa to your mouth, from feeling your way through a building dark with smoke to gripping a ladder, there’s no doubt hands are precious – keep them safe with gloves.


There are 17,000 touch receptors and nerve endings in the palm alone, picking up sensations of pressure, movement and vibration. A chemical or fire burn compromises our sense of touch and our ability to fully interpret the world as we travel through it – as well as your ability to be an effective firefighter.


Gloves are your hands’ best friends


It’s important that your crew wears the right gloves for the right situation. For example, increased heat resistance can come at the cost of dexterity. However, if you’re facing a structural fire, you’ll need the heat resistance. Finding the right balance is worth taking the time over as comfort is an important element when it comes to safety – it makes your crew more likely to keep their gloves on their hands, where they belong.


To help you find the balance between the right level of protection and being able to do what you need to do with your hands, washable gloves can offer much more flexibility than traditional leather ones. When leather gloves go through any kind of washing, they can become stiff, making them less comfortable and less flexible, which reduces the wearer’s dexterity.


As a result, firefighters often end up wearing their gloves when they’re dirty instead of handing them in for laundering. This not only makes it harder to do their job, but could pose a risk of exposure to particulates.



How often have you seen a colleague take off their gloves and stow them in a helmet while cleaning up after attending an incident? How often have you done it yourself? Know we know about the risks of particulates – now think about the journey they go on, from the gloves from the inside of the helmet, from the helmet to the firefighter’s skin and from the skin into the bloodstream, where they can have deadly consequences.


Choosing gloves that are designed to be washed and retain their comfort and dexterity can make a huge difference to a firefighter’s willingness to wear them.


When to wash


Gloves should be washed every time the rest of the kit is washed. Don’t throw them in a locker after a shower assuming they’re clean enough for another call-out. Even if they don’t appear to be dirty, they can have hidden risks, contaminants from appliance handles.


How to wash


Washing in hot soapy water might clean away some of the surface muck, but there’s no way of knowing that all contaminants have been cleaned away so all kit should be laundered through a professional laundry service.


Choosing gloves


FlamePro stocks the full range of Holik firefighting gloves, which are designed to be laundered. They have been tested after 40 washes, to ensure they will stand up the toughest of situations.


The Crystal firefighting gloves are all-rounder fabric gloves, designed to be comfortable to wear with additional protection on the back and fingertips for enhances safety. The Hunter fire gloves are cut for comfort, filled with shock absorbers and additional reinforcement. And the Maris gloves are reinforced with hidden protection, offering high protection against radiant heat. All these gloves are washable.


Alongside the structural gloves, FlamePro also stocks a range of Holik rescue gloves, specifically for rescue suits rather than structural suits. The Miwa rescue gloves are strong yet comfortable, flexible and breathable. They have built in cut resistance and elastic wristbands. Read our blog on rescue kit.


No matter what the call out is, the right gloves are available and keeping them clean and well maintained will protect your firefighters. For a whole range of operations, in work and at home, hands are precious – keep them safe with gloves.


If you would like any further advice on what to look for when specifying your firefighting kit don’t hesitate to get in touch or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Explaining the changes to BS EN469:2020

The European standard for firefighter protective clothing – BS EN469 – has been revised and published in 2020. The new standard makes several key changes and improvements on the 2005 version, which we thought it would be helpful to explain for you here.


Key changes in BS EN469 2020


The updated standard increases the requirement for flame spread and heat resistance testing of:


• Any reinforcement material

• Anti-wicking barrier – which also has size limitations added

• Drain mesh – which also has size limitations

• Hardware – must be tested for heat resistance only

• Any label (> 10cm2), badges and retro reflective materials must be tested for flame spread as part of the whole garment


It also sets a design requirement and specifies performance testing for external pockets and gives detailed instructions about how to test hardware. The heat resistance of sewing threads must now be tested to 260°C.


But the biggest change in the new standard relates to testing the ability of a garment to perform in its “as received” state. The previous standard – BS EN 469:2005 – only required garments to meet the standard after having been laundered five times. The new standard makes it clear that garments need to provide relevant protection against heat transfer and radiant heat from day one of use.


Why testing “as received” is important


It’s critical that firefighters have confidence in their kit and it’s ability to protect them from the extreme conditions they can face. In theory, the fibres of fabric fluff up and fabrics open up during laundering, increasing the heat protection a garment can provide.


As the previous standard stated garments had to meet the requirements after being laundered five times, it is technically possible that a brand new garment didn’t meet the standard.


The impact of this change to testing might be that garments need more insulation to ensure they pass the test parameters in new condition. This could make garments heavier, so needs careful consideration when specifying new kit.


Aiming for a lower HTI (Heat Transfer Index) value will deliver the same heat protection to your crews. A value of 18 should be the new expectation, where 20 might have been the previous spec. There will be a weight difference between garments delivering 18 and 20 when tested as new.


Changes to chemical repellancy testing added to BS EN 469:2020


Firefighters’ protective clothing needs to provide a level of protection against chemicals by repelling them to stop them soaking into the garments and potentially getting on to firefighters’ skin.


BS EN469:2020 makes a couple of changes to the requirements for testing a garment’s ability to repel chemicals, reducing the list to just two for outer fabrics – H2SO4 and O-xylene – and adding a new requirement for testing the deterioration of a garment’s ability to repel chemicals due to cleaning.


There have also been a number of changes to the annexes in BS EN 469:2020:

Annex A: Assessment, evaluation, and determination of the property values for rating and performance classification

Annex B: Contamination during use: guidance on cleaning and risk prevention

Annex C: Summary of the clothing heat and flame protection; selection, use, care and maintenance guidance

Annex D: Updated information on the optional whole garment test for level 2 garments using EN ISO 13506-1:2017 (currently under revision)

Annex E: Information on the new test method available for assessing the physical impact of the suit using a sweating torso


The timeline for changing to all firefighter garments complying with BS EN469:2020


As when all standards change, the new standard is not retrospective, so it is not the case that PPE has to immediately meet the new standard.


Here at FlamePro we’re making sure that all of our new launches will meet the 2020 standard and we’ll re-test and re-certify any items in our range as part of our ongoing certification updates. So you can continue to buy FlamePro firefighter PPE with confidence knowing that it will protect your crews the way it needs to.


If you want some help with explaining the changes to BS EN469:2020 – the firefighter protective clothing standard, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.