The Specific Purpose PPE Report

In the evolving landscape of firefighting, traditional full structural PPE is no longer the one-size-fits-all solution for the diverse emergencies firefighters face. Our comprehensive report, issued in July 2024, delves into the changing role of UK firefighters and the financial and practical benefits of adopting specific purpose PPE. With fewer incidents involving structural fires and a significant increase in non-fire emergencies such as road traffic collisions, medical incidents, and wildfires, the need for versatile, cost-effective PPE has never been greater.

 

This report offers a detailed analysis of the cost implications and potential savings associated with incorporating specific purpose PPE, such as technical rescue, wildland, and water rescue gear. By highlighting case studies and providing practical recommendations, it serves as a crucial resource for Fire and Rescue Services seeking to optimize their PPE procurement strategies and ensure the safety and efficiency of their teams.

 

Discover how aligning PPE choices with today’s firefighting demands can lead to significant cost savings and improved operational effectiveness. Dive into our report to learn more about how specific purpose PPE can be a game-changer for the modern firefighter.

Dynamic new website improves customer experience

We’re excited to introduce our fresh new website! Easy to navigate, quick to load, and teaming with useful information, it’s a helpful customer resource for solutions and support.

 

As a company, we’ve experienced significant growth in recent years, honing our expertise in specific markets and regions across the world. The new website better reflects our company today, with dual dedicated areas focusing on our Firefighting PPE solutions and our Defence Procurement ranges.

 

We’ve taken care to make sure that information and products are easy to find, with simple menus and internal links helping to make navigation simple and intuitive.

 

Our responsive new design ensures that the viewing experience is equally as good on all devices, from desk tops to mobile phones.

 

The website speed has also been optimised, with fast loading, display and response times for a positive user experience.

 

Firefighting PPE
Aimed at Fire & Rescue Services and firefighters in industry, this section showcases our full range of firefighting PPE, along with details of our care and maintenance wrap-around service for cleaning and repairs.

 

Defence Procurement
For our customers in the military, this section details the specialist project management of global rapid procurement and mobilisation services we offer. With capabilities to supply any non lethal items such as high-quality load carry, PPE, clothing and medical equipment. All can be purchased via our rapid procurement service, thanks to our robust global manufacturing, supply and distribution network.

 

Testimonials and case studies
Find out from the front line what it’s like to work with us, to purchase from us and to wear our kit! Our customers tend to come back to us for repeat orders thanks to our high-quality products and swift delivery times.

 

Information and resources
Delve into the latest hot topics and issues affecting our industries. This section of the website features white papers, opinion pieces and research to keep you up to speed.

 

FlamePro’s Head of Marketing, Dominic Beasty comments:

“It’s exciting to see the new website go live! We’ve worked hard to make it more cohesive and informative, and much easier to navigate. It helps to showcase FlamePro’s expertise and capabilities on the global stage, and highlights our unwavering focus on customer service. We hope it will continue to serve as a hub of information and support for our customers, suppliers and the wider industry.”

Why in-house manufacture of firefighting PPE is critical

In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of firefighting, it’s frustrating to wait months for PPE orders. Time and lives are precious, and the tender process itself is often lengthy and slow. Once an order is placed, firefighters need a swift, reliable roll out. The only way to achieve this is to choose a supplier that is fully in control of manufacturing and its supply chain.

 

Keeping everything in-house is the difference between rapid delivery and unexpected long delays.  Our Operations Director Paul Hetherington explores further “At FlamePro, we deliver on our promises and have market leading delivery times meaning crews are protected within just 10-12 weeks of order. This is no coincidence.

 

“Being fully in control of our supply chain and manufacturing process is a game changer. We can focus on firefighters’ needs and you don’t have to wait for months for life saving kit.”

 

Manufacturing and supply chain control

 

Whilst many of our competitors look to China or Asia and contract out their manufacturing, we do everything at our in-house manufacturing facility in the heart of Europe. We manage the facility, employ our own staff, and have stringent training, auditing and quality control processes.

 

We also have a dedicated sampling team and production line, meaning we don’t compete for manufacturing slots and aren’t second in line behind more profitable military jobs – which often adds to delays.

 

Ideally located for rapid delivery

 

Our manufacturing facility is based in Bulgaria. Part of NATO, with stringent rules and regulations and good control on modern slavery, it’s well placed for easy access and fast delivery to customers in UK, Europe and beyond.

 

In-house design

 

Our highly skilled, in-house design team is based in the UK. They control every aspect of the design process and work closely with fire and rescue services to ensure firefighters’ PPE is fit for purpose. They regularly visit our manufacturing facility to oversee the process and ensure everything runs smoothly and to time. 

 

Reduced environmental impact

 

Location matters when it comes to environmental impact too. Being based in Europe means we have a smaller carbon footprint than other manufacturers. This is reduced even further as our main garment components and latest 3D fabric technology, is mostly sourced in Europe.

 

The right kit for the right job: delivered quickly

 

Firefighters’ needs are our top priority. We have developed protective gear for every scenario – wildland, rescue, marine and structural firefighting, that keeps them safe, cool and comfortable.

 

Our team is on hand to provide expert advice, pinpoint your specific requirements, and never oversell!  What you get from us is a quality product that meets your needs, offers excellent protection and is delivered quickly.

 

To discuss your requirements and learn more about our cutting-edge firefighter protection, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030 or drop us a message using our contact form below.

Explaining EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 – Wildland Firefighting Clothing

Explaining EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 – Wildland Firefighting Clothing

There are a wide variety of standards that personal protective clothing and equipment have to conform to – in this blog we’re explaining EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 – wildland firefighting clothing and has replaced EN15614:2007

 

Having different kit for different uses is important as UK firefighters attend a wide variety of incidents, from structural fires to road traffic accidents. Always turning out in full structural kit is often too heavy and cumbersome and provides a level of protection the job doesn’t need. It also means an often protracted level of wear on the firefighters’ most expensive garments.

 

How Often Is Wildland Firefighting Needed?

 

An article in New Scientist in April 2019 reported that there had already been more wildfires in 2019 than in any other year on record – almost a hundred. At the start of that year there had been a dry spell and hot weather over Easter which resulted in 96 major wildfires affecting 25 or more hectares of land. 2019 ended with 137 wildfires of >25 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

 

And in April 2020 National Geographic reported that wildfires are getting more frequent in the UK. In 2020 so far there have been notable wildfires in the Peak District and Wales, so it’s clear that wildland firefighting is an increasing activity for the UK’s state firefighting brigades.

 

Although forest and wildland fires primarily happen during the summer, the start of 2020 has shown that it’s possible for this type of incident to happen at any time of year. According to Statista there was a more than three-fold increase on wildfires from 2022 (6,236) to 2023 (20,362) which is still down from the 2019 (28,754) highs. Wildfires are becoming more and more prevalent in the country.

 

What Does The Standard Cover?

 

In the UK, wildland fires tend to burn slowly rather than raging swiftly through large swathes of land meaning that firefighters have to spend large amounts of time in conditions where radiant heat can be elevated.

 

Firefighters attending wildland fire incidents may also have to walk long distances from appliances, meaning their kit has to balance providing protection from heat with being light and effective, reducing the chances of firefighters suffering from heat stress.

 

EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 specifies standards for the design, minimum performance levels and testing methods for all wildland fire kit.

It covers:

 

  • Radiant heat protection
  • Function and performance of fastenings and badges
  • Tensile strength
  • Thermal resistance
  • Water vapour resistance (which creates breathability)
  • Reflective material proportions

 

EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 is more stringent than the superseded EN15614 with higher performance requirements for Tensile strength, Tear strength, Seam strength and Heat resistance.

 

What Does EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 Not Cover?

 

As the standard for wildland fire fighting, EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 does not apply to clothing which is intended for fighting structural fires. EN469 is the standard which covers kit intended for this purpose.

 

It also doesn’t cover clothing which needs to protect firefighters against chemical, biological, electrical or radiation hazards.

 

Wildland Fire Clothing From The Experts

 

Our wildland fire range is approved to the relevant standard, but designed to meet the needs of the firefighters who have to wear it. All of the range is fire-resistant, thin and light, without the unnecessary thermal protection needed from structural firefighting clothing. This makes the clothing more comfortable to wear over longer periods, reducing heat stress on firefighters.

 

To speak to one of our experts about our comprehensive range of EN ISO 15384:2020 +A1:2021 accredited wildland fire fighting clothing, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Explaining EN16689:2017 – Technical Rescue Clothing

All protective clothing and equipment has to conform to certain UK, European and international standards – EN16689:2017 is the European standard for technical rescue clothing for firefighters.

It’s important that brigades have access to a range of protective clothing for their firefighters, especially as fighting fires accounted for only 28% of firefighting incidents in the UK, according to the latest data.

We thought it would be useful to explain what this standard covers and how it’s different to the other main standards for firefighting clothing.

 

What is technical rescue?

 

In firefighting terms, technical rescue refers to shouts which don’t involve structural fires. The term technical rescue applies to incidents such as road traffic accidents and working around collapsed structures, often as a result of natural disasters such as landslides. Usually there’s limited exposure to heat and flame. Incidents could also involve working in public places or in confined spaces.

As a result of the types of incident that technical rescue clothing is needed for, the specification for this type of kit is different to the usual fire-fighting kit, which needs to primarily protect against heat and flame.

 

What does the standard cover?

 

The standard covers a range of factors including clothing design and performance levels. It also specifies the way clothing meeting the standard should be tested. In particular, EN16689:2017 specifies minimum standards for:

• Flame spread resistance – despite the main intended use for this type of kit not being about fighting fires
• Breathability (referred to in the standard as water vapor resistance)
• Protection from contact heat
• Mechanical resistance
• Resistance to blood-borne pathogens
• Visibility

 

What does EN16689:2017 not cover?

 

The standard is not intended to cover protection for hands, feet or head. And it doesn’t cover protection against other hazards such as chemicals or risks from electrical equipment.

There are other standards for different types of rescue, including EN469, which is the standard used for protective clothing intended for fighting fires and EN15614:2007, the standard for wildland fires.

 

Buying technical rescue clothing

 

Our Technical Rescue range all conforms to EN16689:2017, along with other associated standards covering footwear, helmets and gloves.

Available in a range of colours including red and navy, the range has been carefully designed to ensure that it performs under technical rescue conditions. Our extensive research with firefighters means this kit also has everything you need – from pockets in the right places to reinforced knee pads and adjustable ankle and waist tabs on some garments.

Many of our technical rescue products also double-up as wildfire firefighting gear, meeting EN15614:2007 as well.

For a conversation about buying your next technical rescue kit that conforms to EN16689:2017, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Care and Maintenance

Crucial to keep your team safe

 

Keeping fire kit clean and structurally intact isn’t optional nowadays. It’s about keeping the team safe because today fire is far from the only risk they face.

 

Today’s firefighters face today’s risks

 

Historically, firefighters wore smokey and well-worn kit as a badge of honour, an indicator of experience. This is no-longer how firefighters and brigades can afford to think.

 

Keeping clothing clean and properly maintained is not only a way to extend the life of the clothing but also the firefighter, because without it firefighters will potentially be exposed to harm whilst fighting a fire and even whilst they’re not.

 

Today’s firefighters are being exposed to ever more complex materials when they attend incidents. Plastics, fillings, chemicals, foams – each has the potential to be harmful through air-borne particles that are inhaled, but there is also increasing evidence of the danger of particulate harm through the skin.

 

A structural fire suit and accessories like gloves and hoods are not just designed to protect the firefighter against heat and water. A modern fire suit has layers that allow heat and moisture from perspiration to escape but block harmful contaminates like chemicals, blood and indeed particulates from passing through the layers of the suit.

 

However, if a firefighter is exposed to those harmful particulates, they will remain on the outer layers of the suit as well as gloves, boots, fire hoods etc and these garments need to be de-contaminated. Contaminates will remain and have the potential to harm the firefighter as they return to the station or the next time any of the garments are worn.

 

Modern risks need a modern approach

 

At FlamePro we have developed a state-of-art Care and Maintenance package, specifically designed to meet the needs of modern day firefighters.

 

Our Care and Maintenance package is completely tailored to the needs of your organisation. With a network of 22 service depots across Britain and state-of-the-art online resources we know that we can put together the right Care and Maintenance package for you.

 

Our Care Package

 

FlamePro offers our customers a turnkey solution for the care or maintenance of their turn-out gear, keeping garments, clean, de-contaminated and free from defect.

 

We offer a seven-day SLA as standard on the laundry service, using the latest technology to scan and identify individual garments before processing so that we can create a history for each garment. Take a look at the various elements of our package.

 

Cleaning and de-contamination

 

Firefighter protective clothing must be clean to give optimum performance. Dirty fire suits can insulate less, conducting more heat and even electricity. They will also not shed liquids as effectively.

 

However, as we’ve highlighted above many contaminants are carcinogens and toxic skin chemicals which can endanger the life of the firefighter. Suits need to be washed and de-contaminated in line with prescribed protocols.

 

Maintenance

 

Every garment that is sent for cleaning or de-contamination also undergoes an inspection to look for garment damage, not only to the outer and seams of course, but also by inspecting the thermal liner and the moisture barrier layer.

 

With a set of agreed criteria, garments are ether repaired (this could include re-proofing as well) as part of the service, or if repairs are un-economic we can follow agreed procedures to either ask for authorisation to retire the garment and issue a replacement or replace it automatically as agreed.

 

 

 

If you want us to, we can hold a stock of garments in order to be able to immediately get a garment out to your firefighter.

 

Any repairs are made with the same care and to the same high standards we use when manufacturing the garment. It is vital that we maintain the integrity of the garment in order that it can do its job and protect the firefighter.

 

Wardrobe Management

 

You can manage everything by merely logging onto our dedicated Wardrobe Management Portal (WMP) to arrange collection of dirty or damaged kit.

 

Our WMP also gives you access to your account with the ability to drill-down to individual wearers, seeing the history of their garments with details on cleaning, repairs and maintenance. This crucial insight gives you real-time information and analysis into the garment lifecycle as well as analysis of the costs of cleaning and repairs.

 

The WMP also allows new kit orders, ordering garments to be manufactured and pulling garments from held-in-reserve stock. We can also manage all Rank Change Requests through the user profile within the WMP.

 

Call and chat to one of our friendly experts by calling +44 (0) 1332 341030.

The Importance of FR base layers

In the dynamic and perilous realm of firefighting, the significance of outfitting firefighters in flame retardant (FR) base layers versus non-FR garments cannot be overstated. This crucial decision impacts not only the comfort and performance of the individuals on the front lines but is ultimately a matter of life and death.

 

When contrasting flame retardant base layers with their non-FR counterparts, the primary distinction lies in the ability to resist ignition and impede the spread of flames. In the intense heat of a firefight, a momentary spark can escalate into a full-blown catastrophe. Flame retardant base layers act as a critical barrier, providing a level of protection that non-FR garments simply cannot match.

 

The intrinsic resistance to ignition is not just a matter of compliance with safety standards; it is a fundamental feature that elevates the safety of firefighters. Non-FR garments, when exposed to flames, can ignite rapidly, exposing the wearer to immediate and severe risks. In contrast, flame retardant base layers are engineered to withstand the harsh conditions of a fire, offering a crucial layer of defence that can make the difference between life and death.

 

Beyond the immediate threat of flames, the risk of burns is a constant concern for firefighters. Flame retardant fabrics excel in minimising heat transfer, reducing the potential for burns even in the face of extreme temperatures. This level of protection is a non-negotiable aspect of firefighter safety that cannot be compromised.

 

The comfort and mobility of firefighters are equally pivotal factors in the choice between flame retardant base layers and non-FR garments. While non-FR options may offer flexibility, they pale in comparison to the carefully crafted balance achieved by flame retardant base layers. These garments prioritize both protection and practicality, ensuring that firefighters can execute their duties with agility and efficiency, unencumbered by the limitations of inadequate gear.

 

The choice between flame retardant base layers and non-FR garments is not merely a matter of preference; it is a strategic decision that directly impacts the safety and well-being of those who selflessly confront the flames. The imperative of providing firefighters with the best possible protection cannot be compromised, making flame retardant base layers an indispensable investment in the face of an unpredictable and challenging profession.

 

At FlamePro we are proud to include in our range FR base layers, leggings, tops and because protection should be on every layer we supply FR underwear too.

Protecting firefighters from cancer: the most advanced particulate hoods on the market

Many of us have been alarmed by recent research commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union and independently carried out by the University of Central Lancashire, that evidences instances of cancer among firefighters aged 35-39 is up to 323% higher than the general population of the same age, urging our industry to act now to make firefighting a safer profession. The neck and jaw areas are most vulnerable to smoke and particulate exposure, which is why protective hoods are so critical.

 

We’ve worked hard to create an industry-leading particulate hood responding to firefighters’ needs. FlamePro’s next-generation particulate hoods give firefighters the most advanced protection from cancer-causing particulates from the very first time it is worn, a step-up from alternative products that fall short.

 

Unlike any other hood using the same fabric, FlamePro’s pioneering design is engineered with unique differences to give firefighters the highest level of protection and comfort:

 

Maximised protection that lasts longer

 

171 and 172 DuPont™ Nomex® Nano Flex versions are independently tested and certified to give above 99% protection from the first wear and up to 250 washes compared to other products that only give protection levels for around 100-150 washes. And our 173 PTFE hood offering 99.9% protection from the first wear.

 

Great value, without compromising safety

 

Not only do our new particulate hoods have extended durability that give maximum levels of protection for longer than any alternative, but we also offer both critical cover and full cover protection options to accommodate varying budgets. This gives you the confidence you’re not compromising on the quality and safety standards your firefighters deserve.

Eliminates the risk of particulate exposure and weak spots

 

Particulate barrier protection all the way to the face eliminates the risk of exposure, compared to alternative hoods which have a rib around the edging leaving the face exposed to particulates. FlamePro’s hoods have protected seams for comfort and use meta-aramid threads to give 100% protection from particulates filtering through. What’s more, our hoods are made without any quilting to ensure there is no particulate seepage through weak spots.

 

Exceptionally lightweight to improve mobility and reduce heat stress

 

Our particulate hoods are lighter than any other hood using the same material thanks to FlamePro’s intelligent pattern cutting to tailor the fit. This not only ensures safety and comfort by adapting to the wearer’s size, but it also contributes further to reducing the risk to the firefighter of heat stress.

 

Two sizes for maximum safety and comfort

 

FlamePro knows that a “one size fits most” approach isn’t good enough. Our hoods are tailored for different sizes to reduce the risks of ill-fitting hoods, giving maximised protection and comfort. Garments are clearly labelled to make sure firefighters are easily able to identify that they are donning the right hood.

 

Eliminate need for duplicate kits

 

FlamePro’s particulate hoods meet both structural AND wildfire certifications, eliminating the need for buying, storing, and maintaining duplicate kit and the risk of firefighters taking the wrong protective hood to an incident. This reduces the budget investment needed for the same item at both wildfire and structural incidents.

 

Highly breathable allowing heat and moisture to escape

 

FlamePro’s particulate hood uses cutting-edge DuPontNomex® Nano Flex fabric, specifically developed to prevent contamination from particulates.

 

The heat and flame-resistant fabric is highly breathable, very thin, and lightweight which is crucial for allowing both heat and moisture to escape, allowing firefighters to stay clear headed and safe. These qualities are essential for preventing heat stress and maintaining comfort in extreme environments.

 

Reduced hearing impairment

 

Unlike PTFE laminated hoods, the new 171 and 172 hoods do not contain a plastic lining that interferes with hearing. This means firefighters hear instructions more clearly and are more aware of their surroundings, enhancing their ability to perform safely.

 

Stand-out choice in wearer trials

 

Firefighters chose our particulate hood more frequently than any other in user trials, reporting it was comfortable, cool, and quiet to wear.

 

Act now

 

Give your firefighters maximum protection against the cancer-causing risks of particulates. View FlamePro’s particulate hood  collection or contact us to act now.

 

Introducing FlamePro RECYCLE

FlamePro RECYCLE is our new service introduced to give you an easy, safe and importantly  secure disposal route for all of your end of life PPE, protecting the environment and removing the risk of PFAS ground contamination.Originally developed as a way to prevent FlamePro garments being part of the 350,000 tonnes of textiles that go into landfill in the UK every year, FlamePro RECYCLE gives a whole host of benefits to customers subscribing to the service.

 

The risk of ground contamination from PFAS, which is increasingly high on the environmental agenda, is eliminated for those items returned and recycled through our service. As no items are sent to landfill there is no opportunity for the returned contaminated garments to pollute the ground or drinking water or the dangerous effects that this can cause to human health and the wider environment to occur.

 

Customers using our new RECYCLE service can legitimately claim zero landfill for items disposed of through the scheme and, disposal can be certified to allow them to provide evidence of sustainable actions taken  for their own sustainability measures and certifications.

 

To ensure that the service fits our wide variety of customers we have ensured that FlamePro RECYCLE has a returns and collection options that scale per individual requirement, allowing choices from ad hoc single boxes every 6 months to multiple 1100L bins collected every week, whatever suits them best.

 

As the majority of our customers have branded PPE recognisable to, and trusted by the public, we have worked hard to establish a route that guarantees that there is no danger of identifiable PPE getting into the wrong hands. This not only protects  vulnerable members of the public, but also our customers themselves. FlamePro RECYCLE works in accordance with BS EN: 15713-2009 Secure Destruction of Confidential Material Code of Practice ensuring all branded or identifiable items are shredded and de-badged the moment they hit site, safeguarding any vulnerabilities.

 

It is not just FlamePro own garments that customers are able to return, but any end-of-life PPE that they need to dispose of, regardless of supplier this includes, boots, gloves, safety glasses and helmets. All items are then recycled and re-used for other purposes, avoiding landfill, and helping feed into a circular economy.

 

To allow us to offer this sustainability enhancing service, we have partnered with an industry-leading recycling company who are committed to sending zero waste to landfill. Our partner is certificated to ISO9001 (Quality), ISO14001 (Environmental) and ISO45001 (H&S), this compliments our own ISO9001, 14001 & 27001 certificate.

 

To find out more visit FlamePro RECYCLE, get in touch using the form below to discover how to tailor this service to suit  you.

What next for UK fire and rescue services?

There’s broad agreement that the fire and rescue service needs reform. The latest assessment of the sector in England by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services reinforces this point. A new white paper is due later this year with recommendations from the Home Office about changes.

 

 

What might we see in that white paper? Here at FlamePro we’re not experts in governance (just in protective kit), but we’ve listened to the sector and some key themes have emerged.

 

 

The changing role of the modern firefighter

 

From providing extra capacity to move dead bodies to giving vaccines and delivering PPE, the fire service played a critical role during the pandemic. The international emergency allowed fire brigades up and down the country to demonstrate, once again, they can do more than just put out fires.

 

 

Firefighters have been much more than the name suggests for many years. While tackling blazes will always be a priority, prevention work is now a central part of the brief. So is working alongside other emergency services at incidents such as terrorist incidents, floods, and road traffic collisions.

 

 

Is “firefighter” even the right term any more? Fighting fires is absolutely a core part of the role, but it’s not where the majority of brigades spend their time.

 

 

We’re not just saying that. In 2020, tackling fires only accounted for 29% of the incidents attended in England, the same percentage as non-fire incidents. This compares to fires being 35% of incidents ten years ago. The rest of the incidents in 2020 were false alarms (42%).

 

 

Efficiencies in fire and rescue structures and lines of command

 

Scotland has one fire and rescue service. The previous eight regional brigades were merged in 2013.

 

 

The latest report by HM Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue services in England lists national reform as a priority. It says changes should address “the deficit in the fire sector’s national capacity and capability to support change”. And that precise definitions of the role of fire and rescue services and the people who work within them should be created.

 

The report also calls for “greater clarity on activities such as co-responding (supporting the other emergency services), responding to floods, responding to terrorist attacks and wider public safety”. We don’t think frontline firefighters would disagree.

 

 

Will a similar structure to Scotland be on the table? Or will Government see the available efficiencies in sharing HR, finance, and other central services with, for example, regional police forces as a route to reform?

 

 

Risks and threats to fire brigades

 

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it; or so they say. The issue for England’s fire and rescue services, according to HM Inspectorate, seems to be that brigades measure the same things differently. A common approach to assessing, measuring, and managing risk is called for.

 

 

One of the emerging risks is contamination, especially from particulates, which can be carcinogenic. This is already high on the agenda in the US and mainland Europe; the industry in the UK is just developing its understanding of these risks. What’s clear is that protection can be provided by kit. But behaviour is also a critical piece of the jigsaw.

 

 

Not long ago, firefighters would have put their dirty gloves in their helmets after a shout. Now we know the gloves are likely contaminated with particles which can seep through the head’s thin skin. The kit didn’t need to change to address this risk, behaviour did.

 

 

With most brigades having a mix of retained and full-time firefighters, training to build a mutual understanding of risks and how to manage them will be more important than ever.

 

 

Here at FlamePro we’re keen to see whether Government makes any bold moves to remove barriers and enable the Fire and Rescue service to adapt. As demands change, so should the industry’s ability to respond.

 

 

To discuss your requirements and learn more about the range, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Firefighting kit – is it time to end one-type-fits-all?

We know that every day as a firefighter is not the same. Every call-out is different – from road traffic collisions to industrial fires, the demands of the job change by the hour. You might not be rescuing cats from up trees, but we know that running into burning buildings isn’t what you spend most of your time doing either.

 

So if every shout is different. If the demands placed on you whenever you turn out to a job aren’t the same. Why do you put on the same kit each time?

 

From our research with firefighters, we know that the diversity of demands on your time has increased. The diversity of kit needs to keep pace with those changes.

 

A range of risks

 

Firefighters’ turn out kit protects you from a wide range of risks linked to tackling structural fires. It also provides protection from a range of potential contaminants you’ll encounter in smoke and fire water.

 

But do you always need that level of protection?

 

Wildland fires are becoming more regular. But they demand a different kind of firefighting; a long game. It’s unlikely you can turn up with a few pumps, stay a couple of hours and have totally beaten a wildland fire.

 

You walk for miles, across uneven terrain, away from the fire tenders and central stores of kit. The heat can be intense in a different way to the heat inside a burning building, and you’re in amongst it, often in the dark.

 

To perform at your best, you’ll need kit to work with you. Light to wear, but with protection from the heat and the thorns that also appear out to get you. And you’ll need to be easily seen from a distance.

 

RTCs demand you can easily operate equipment to free people from vehicles while managing potential risks of fire and explosion from damaged engines. Other rescue situations might involve no risk of fire at all.

 

Take floods. Another increasing risk as our climate experiences more extremes of weather. Firefighters have a crucial role to play in rescuing people and are often called on to pump away water to protect critical assets. It’s likely to be cold, wet, and the literal opposite of a call-out involving fire.

 

Modern challenges, modern kit

 

The protective clothing available to firefighters needs to meet the demands of the job. And that’s not a one-type-fits-all kind of situation.

 

You should have serious protection from heat and flame when it’s needed the most. But when it isn’t, what you wear still needs to help you do the job.

 

Investing in a diversity of kit to meet the variety of call-outs is what modern brigades are starting to do. Wearing the right kit for the job makes firefighters’ lives easier. It makes sense to match protection to risks, rather than always wearing one set of turn-out gear which could be over-spec’d and over-used, leading to higher maintenance and replacement costs in the long-run.

 

FlamePro’s team of experts has developed a range of firefighter protective gear for the different scenarios you face. Take a look at our new wildland and rescue ranges, or check out Valliant, the cutting-edge structural suit taking the market by storm.

 

To discuss your requirements and learn more about the range, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Wildland fires: are we in for a summer of fighting fires on the moors?

What’s the deal with wildland fires? As news of Northern Ireland’s firefighters battling wildfires hit the headlines last week, many firefighters will be thinking they’ve never been out to so many wildfire shouts.

 

We’ve seen a rise in wildfires around the world over the past few decades. Australia and the United States have both suffered repeated high-profile wildfires, with scientists suggesting that the number of large fires in the western US has doubled between 1984 and 2015.

 

In the UK we’re not even a decade into recognising wildfires as a big risk – they weren’t even on the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies until 2012! Now they seem to be a common call-out for brigades with moorland and mountains in their patch.

 

Wildfires and climate change

 

Making the link between wildfires and climate change isn’t rocket science. Climate change means we’ll get more extremes of weather – hotter and drier, as well as colder and wetter.

 

In fact, new data shows that 2020 was Europe’s warmest year on record, and one of the three warmest years on record across the world. Europe’s temperature was 0.4oC higher than the last warmest year on record. And there were more sunshine hours recorded in Europe than any other year since records began in 1983.

 

According to the UK Met Office, April 2021 is on track to be one of the driest on record. We’ve had an average of 12.8mm of rain across the UK up to April 22, much lower than the April average of 72.53mm, according to Met Office figures.

 

So with warmer temperatures and less rain, it will be much easier for wildfires to take hold and spread as the ground is drier, and so is material they need for fuel. Given these stats, it’s no surprise we’re seeing more of them.

 

Wildfires – what’s the risk?

 

In the UK we usually get wildfires on the moors, which means they tend to be in more remote areas. This can mean a long trek from the appliance for fire crews to even get to the location of the fires. And that’s an even tougher ask when done in heavy kit.

 

Tackling wildfires takes huge amounts of resources, drawing fire crews away from towns and cities where there are more likely to be fires or road traffic collisions which endanger more people. It’s not where fire crews want to spend their time.

 

And they are tricky to tackle. As happened in Northern Ireland last week, firefighters can put out one wildfire, only for another to spring up nearby. And the radiant heat generated by wildfires can quickly lead to heat stress or heat exhaustion, especially if firefighters are working in warm temperatures too.

 

The best firefighter kit for wildfires

 

Who wants to be trekking up a mountain or over a moor in heavy kit if you don’t need that level of protection? Better to wear something lighter-weight, but which will still keep you safe from wildland risks.

 

That might not be the usual approach, but our wildland kit gives you all the protection you need to break with the tradition of wearing too-heavy, too-cumbersome suits to fight fires in the open air. It’s as much about a change of mindset as it is about a change of kit.

 

It might feel counter-intuitive to reach for lighter kit when you’ve a wildfire to fight. But all of our wildland firefighting garments conform to EN15614:2007, the European standard for wildland firefighting clothing. There is also a new British standard – BS ISO 16073-3:2019 – which our new wildland garments range conforms to.

 

Launching soon, we’ve made our next generation of wildland garments from a new stronger and more comfortable fabric. It’s lightweight and anti-abrasion, plus features glow-in-the-dark tape, because wildfires don’t just knock off for the night when darkness falls.

 

Like our previous range, it’s made from a single layer of lightweight yet strong fabric, providing the right level of protection without being too heavy to wear for long shifts out in the sticks.

 

The new product development team has also worked hard on the ergonomics of the new wildland range, creating products which make it easier to move around in and are more comfortable to wear. Just what fire crews need when spending long days fighting fires on moorland.

 

To find out more about our new range of multi-use stationwear, give one of the friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.


FlamePro wins major Capita tender to provide PPE for MoD over next 10 years

FlamePro, a British manufacturing specialist of life-saving garments for firefighters, has been awarded a £4m contract by Capita to provide its firefighting PPE for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) across the next decade.

 

The competitive tender, part of Capita’s contract with the MoD, saw four different PPE providers bid for the work, with FlamePro being appointed to provide its full ensemble of PPE alongside a total garment care package.

 

FlamePro was awarded the contract due to its high-quality product and the company’s dedication to providing support and expertise on PPE care, use and maintenance.

 

The contract includes a multi-million pound initial roll-out, with a total value of £4m across 10 years.

 

Nathan Bricknell, General Manager at FlamePro, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this contract with Capita – it marks a key milestone for the company.

 

“Over recent months we’ve worked with our partners to develop brand-new fabric technologies and designs, including a 3D woven structure and new moisture barrier membrane, to ensure our PPE is the most advanced on the market.

 

“Our brand-new structural fire suit has set a new benchmark across the whole industry. This, teamed with our shorter-than-average lead times stands us in great stead to deliver top-quality products and service on this contract.”

 

To discuss your requirements and learn more about the range, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Insight is the key to new ranges

Our market-leading new Valiant structural fire suit has been more than a year in the making. FlamePro has assembled a team of experts to create a suit which makes no compromises on protection and provides solutions to challenges that our firefighting customers have told us are a problem.

 

Here we introduce Technical Sales Manager Reece Buchner, a key member of the team who provided the customer insight which shaped the development of Valiant. As part of our series on getting to know the people behind the range, here’s a bit more about Reece’s approach to customer feedback.

 

 

Product development to meet customer needs

 

reece-buchner-progarm-technical-sales-managerThe key to designing successful new products is truly listening to your customers’ problems. The FlamePro sales team have spent the last few years visiting and speaking to fire officers at state and private brigades around the country. This intelligence has informed the design and features of the new Valiant structural suit.

 

Reece spends much of his time listening. His approach is simple: it’s not about selling to people, but about truly understanding what their problems are. This critical understanding of the modern fire fighter’s challenges has been a crucial part of the new product development taking place at FlamePro.

 

“It’s about unpacking their problems,”

says Reece.

 

“More of the conversation is focused on their problems, rather than asking what products they want us to make.”

 

“A bit like Henry Ford said about him inventing the car; if he’d listened to his customers, he would have made a faster horse. So I’d rather hear what’s difficult for fire crews, what they are worried about, and what causes them issues when they are out at an incident.”

 

Having gained a reliable reputation through the company’s popular wildland kit, which uses a different fabric to other garments on the market (more natural fibres keep crews cooler for longer), Reece had the confidence of many Technical Service Managers, Group Managers and Chief Fire Officers and they were happy to discuss what they were looking for.

 

“Our attitude is always that nothing’s impossible. We won’t discard an idea because we haven’t done it before or there’s nothing like that on the market already. We’re just keen to listen and use that information to create products that really stand up to the rigors of being a fire fighter.”

 

 

A structural suit that feels lighter to wear, with just as much protection

 

Reece’s insight into the problems and concerns of state and private fire crews all over the UK contributed to the development of the new Valiant structural fire suit.

 

Talking about the new suit, Reece continues,

“Wearer trial feedback tells us that it feels lighter to wear than similar kit while delivering plenty of thermal protection. The unique combinations of advanced moisture barrier and clever linings use 3D fabric technology to transfer moisture away from the skin faster, keep crews cooler for longer.”

 

The Valiant suit’s clever fabric system design and the team’s obsession with ergonomics have been complemented with plenty of design features such as:

 

• 3D spacers used to reinforce and add strength around the shoulders, relieving the pressure from wearing breathing apparatus and reducing the chance of injury due to steam burns created by sweat not wicked away in ferocious firefighting conditions

• Additional Kevlar™ puncture-proof protection on knees and elbows with additional padding for comfort when crawling

• Robust, detachable braces, using 3D spacers and chunky ladder lock buckles to create easy adjustment

• Easy grab tabs on pockets and adjusters to allow the firefighter to keep their gloves on and not expose their hands

• Glow-in-the-dark strips as standard, different on the front and back, enhancing visibility and providing valuable information in rescue situations

 

To discuss your requirements and learn more about the range, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Introducing our Head of New Product Development

If, like we were, you’re looking for revolution, not evolution in product development, you need to do things totally differently.

 

To develop the new FlamePro Valiant structural fire suit, we swept away all of the industry assumptions about what a fire suit should be by putting our team of experts covering new product development, technical fabrics, and ergonomics. The result? We believe we’ve created the most advanced structural fire suit on the market.

 

More than a year in the making, we’ve created a suit which makes no compromises on protection, but due to its clever design and composition feels lighter and more comfortable to wear.

 

We wanted to introduce you to the clever people behind the range’s innovations, so in this blog you’ll meet Adrian Jaoudat, our Product Manager.

 

Insider knowledge

 

adrian-jaoudat-progarm-product-managerThere’s not much Adrian doesn’t know about FlamePro and our sister company, ProGARM. He’s spent 10 years working for ProGARM, and the last three working on FlamePro too since it was bought by the same owners.

 

Starting in the warehouse on a gap year from his studies to be an architect, Adrian never returned to Poland where he was at university. Instead, he quickly worked his way up through the business.

 

“Solving problems is what I like to do,”

Adrian says.

“I guess that’s why I wanted to be an architect, but I now use that problem-solving approach on new product development.”

 

Throughout his time with the business, Adrian has worked in Operations, Purchasing, Procurement, Quality Management, and now Product Development, with a particular focus on innovation. This detailed knowledge of every aspect of what it takes to make a garment and get it to the end user helps shape his approach.

 

A complex introduction to new product development

 

After he joined the new product development team seven years ago, the first range Adrian worked on was multi-norm waterproofs. Multi-norm products protect against a range of hazards and have to meet the specifications and standards for each of them. Not the simplest of ranges to make a start on, but this had advantages.

 

“I had to quickly learn about the certification process,”

Adrian says.

“What it takes to pass each of the standards, the issues to look out for, the technical detail you need to put together, and the testing the garments have to go through.

“Working on a multi-norm product meant I had to learn about multiple standards at once. It was a steep learning curve, but beneficial in the long-run as everything after that seemed simple!”

 

Making improvements to the FlamePro ranges

 

Adrian now heads up the team tasked with new product development (NPD) for both FlamePro and ProGARM. He studied the range and the market for 18 months before starting on the project to create the new Valiant suit.

 

“To me, new product development is a careful balance of understanding what the customer wants and seeing where the market is going. A bit like Henry Ford said, if he’d have given people what they asked for, he’d have come up with a faster horse.”

Adrian explained.

“We need to create products people want and need, but also spot the opportunities to come up with something genuinely new and different to fulfil that need.”

 

After assembling the expert team who would create the new product, comprising Adrian’s own in-house NPD team including technical fabric expert Stanley Russell, ergonomics specialist Lorraine Costello and our sales manager Reece Buchner for industry insight, Adrian stepped into the role of project manager for the new range.

 

Once the product was designed, Adrian used his significant experience to secure certification of the new FlamePro Valiant structural suit. It took more than 12 months – the lengthiest certification process Adrian has ever experienced. There were more than 250 tests on component parts and the garment as a whole, to ensure that it meets or exceeds all of the necessary criteria.

 

So is that job done for Adrian now the new range has been launched?

 

“Not at all,”

he says.

“We’re only just getting started! Watch this space for a whole spectrum of new product launches.”

 

A giant leap forward in structural fire suits

 

The team didn’t let us down. FlamePro’s new generation of FlamePro structural suit represents a huge leap forward.

 

To read more about Valiant and find the links to the datasheets about it, visit the product page.

To discuss your requirements, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Fabric innovations for the new 770/775 suits

Meet Valiant – New technologies. New designs. New Benchmark.

 

Three major components of a fire-fighting structural suit influence its performance and how heavy it is to wear – the outer fabric, the thermal moisture barrier, and the quilted inner layer which provides the heat protection.

 

Fire brigades have always had to balance how much thermal protection they want their suits to provide with comfort and wearability for their fire crews – more protection generally makes a suit heavier to wear, meaning fire fighters get hotter, are more at risk of heat stress, and of tiring more quickly.

 

That’s not a compromise you have to make any more.

 

FlamePro’s new structural turn-out suit, Valiant, sweeps away the need to choose between comfort and performance. But how did we create a suit that minimises these compromises?

 

Industry expertise

 

We started by listening to firefighters and assembling the right team. A team of experts in garment design, ergonomics, new product development, and technical fabrics to help us conceive the very best structural fire-fighting suit that would set a new benchmark.

 

Then we started from scratch. The new range is not an evolution of existing products, it’s revolution, born from the team’s expertise and access to the best technologies there are.

 

Two major innovations allow our new Valiant suit to deliver protection, comfort and practicality – a new moisture barrier, and a revolutionised thermal lining.

 

Moisture barrier innovation

 

They say if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. We knew the traditional Gore-Tex Fire Blocker membrane had been used by fire-fighter PPE companies for more than 15 years. There had to be something better.

 

Our fabric specialist, multi-award-winning Stanley Russell knew just where to look.

 

The manufacturer of the non-woven product in Fire Blocker had developed a 3D version of the traditional non-woven structure. The fabric structure creates space for air to move, enhancing the speed with which moisture is transferred away from the skin, keeping firefighters cooler for longer.

 

We commissioned a version of this which has been combined with a customised version of the Event membrane – renowned as the most breathable ePTFE membrane in the world and used by the US military.

 

This exclusive combination, currently only available in Valiant, gave us a moisture barrier that:

 

• is the same weight as Fire Blocker
• offers increased breathability, moisture management and high-temperature wash durability
• delivers better thermal performance against radiant heat than like-for-like suits

 

A new approach to the fire suit’s thermal lining layer

 

The component that adds the most weight to a structural fire-fighting suit is the thermal lining, which provides the heat protection. Traditionally, barriers are a combination of woven fabric, quilted to spun lace or needle felt, with both fabrics being 100% aramids or aramid blends. This creates a bulky layer which may have high thermal properties but has moderate breathability, lower comfort levels, and could trap moisture.

 

We wanted to create a revolutionary new thermal lining layer that reduces bulk, increases breathability but still provides excellent thermal protection.

 

The team worked with one of the world’s leading manufacturers to create a 3D woven structure that combines aramid and viscose to create a fabric with market-leading breathability, superior moisture transportation to keep moisture away from the skin, and great thermal performance without being bulky.

 

Market-leading fire-fighting fabric systems and totally new designs

 

We’re shaking up the market with our new Valiant range. It allows buyers to combine our innovative and market-leading moisture barrier and lining with a choice of five outer fabrics to create a structural fire-fighting suit that meets the needs of their brigade.

 

All of the range features changes to create enhanced comfort, such as Kevlar ® re-enforced knee and elbow pads, lumbar support to make it more comfortable wearing breathing apparatus, and chunky grab tabs to allow you to adjust your suit and access pockets without exposing your hands.

 

The Valiant suit is also the first on the market to offer fully-certified glow-in-the-dark strips as standard, with different placements on the front and the back of the jacket. This clever idea means if a firefighter is unconscious and needs rescuing in the dark, you’ll not only be able to see them, but you’ll be able to see what position they are in too. And they have been tested through 50 wash cycles.

 

Choose from male or female cuts in XS to 4XL and from extra small to XX tall – 96 choices for the perfect fit for all your firefighters.

 

Get in touch to chat to one of our friendly experts by calling +44 (0) 1332 341030.

How to inspect your firefighting kit

No matter what task you’re undertaking, your kit is your last line of defence between you and the fire, floodwater, corrosive chemicals or other hazards you are dealing with. Keeping it in top condition is of paramount importance.

 

While a generation ago scorch marks and dirt would have been worn as a badge of pride, today’s firefighters know that a clean, well-maintained kit is a safe kit.

 

In 2019, British Standard BS8617 was introduced to give firefighters guidance on the cleaning, maintenance and repairs of personal protective equipment (PPE) to make sure it keeps you safe. It covers the inspection, testing, cleaning, decontamination, drying, repairs, replacement, retirement/disposal, recording, storage and transportation of kit. It’s a comprehensive standard.

 

We published a blog at the time that goes into more detail about the standard and what it means for you.

 

Within the standard, there is a recommendation that all fire services should have a contract in place for outsourcing the cleaning and maintenance of their PPE. In order to effectively use a cleaning and maintenance company, in-house inspections are required to ensure that you’re keeping on top of any issues that might crop up between regular maintenance.

 

What to inspect and when

 

Anyone involved in firefighting or associated activities needs to complete a routine inspection every time you get a new piece of kit, at the start of every shift and after you use the kit. Your whole structural suit needs to be inspected after every call out. Different conditions can cause different issues, but sometimes general wear and tear will make itself known at the most inconvenient of times and you definitely don’t want it falling apart when you need it the most.

 

Each time, check your garments (jacket and trousers), helmet, gloves, footwear and fire hood.

 

What to look for

 

Some damage is not so easy to spot, so a thorough inspection is required:

 

• Check the surface of the fabric for holes, rips, tears and scuffs

• Shine a torch over reflective surfaces to make sure they remain reflective

• Check the durable waterproof repellent layer (DWR). Having this coating working properly will not only keep out water, but will also protect you from battery acid, other chemicals and, crucially, particulates. Use a spray bottle to mist water over the fabric. If it pools in droplets, the DWR is working fine, but if it soaks into the fabric, it’s time to get it re-treated

• Check that Velcro adheres properly and zips and other fasteners close properly. If you have been in a grassy environment, the Velcro can easily become matted and fail to close properly

• Stress test the fabric. Push a blunt object against the fabric. It shouldn’t go through, but if it does, it’s a good sign of UV damage that has weakened the fabric

 

What to do when there’s a problem

 

Your fire service should have clear guidance for what to do when PPE needs to be repaired or replaced. There are steps you can take to preserve the life of your kit. Read our blog on how to maintain your firefighting kit here.

 

We hope that’s a good short guide to how to inspect your firefighting kit – if you want more details about our comprehensive range of high quality firefighting garments and PPE, call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

How to maintain your firefighting kit

When you are busy fighting fires and rescuing people, you might not have thought about how to maintain your firefighting kit.

 

Anyone involved in firefighting knows that their kit is their best friend. This safety barrier protects people working on the frontline from all manner of hazards, from freezing cold temperatures to the most extreme heat, from toxic chemicals to the invisible hazard of particulates.

 

But the kit can only do so much on its own. Making sure the kit is up to the task is, at least in part, down to the user.

 

So how can anyone involved in firefighting and associated activities preserve the life of their kit through regular maintenance?

 

New British Standard for maintaining your firefighting kit

 

BS8617 was published in 2019 with detailed guidance for the inspection, testing, cleaning, decontamination, drying, repairs, replacement, and retirement/disposal of firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE). While it recommends that each fire service should have a contract provider for cleaning and maintaining kit, there are also steps individuals can take to preserve their equipment.

 

Understanding your durable water repellent layer (DWR)

 

The DWR layer is the element of your structural suit that makes the biggest difference between it being professional safety equipment and normal clothes. As the name suggests, it keeps out water, but it also protects you from other liquids, including battery acid and other corrosive chemicals.

 

Crucially, though, by making the fabric non-porous, the DWR also keeps out particulates, which are now widely recognised as one of the biggest dangers to the health of a firefighter. Particulates in a firefighting scenario can penetrate the skin and get into the blood stream, where they can be carcinogenic. We have a whole blog post on particulates here.

 

Maintaining your DWR is a simple yet effective measure against these known poisons. To check whether your suit is still water (and particulate) tight, simply spray it with water from a spray bottle. If the water pools in droplets on the surface, the DWR is working effectively. If it soaks into the fabric, the DWR has failed and the garment needs to be re-treated.

 

When to repair and when to replace your firefighting suits

 

Within BS8617 is provision for keeping excellent records and traceability for all PPE items. This provides the opportunity to keep a close eye on maintenance spending, monitoring how much money is spent on each item. If a new jacket costs £200 for example, and you have already invested £150 in repairs, there’s a good chance it will be more cost effective to replace the jacket the next time it is damaged instead of paying for another repair.

 

Garments will also need to be retired if they are over 10 years old (or older than the lifespan determined by the manufacturer) or if they have been contaminated by chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear agents.

 

Good maintenance protocols go hand in hand with constant kit inspections to flag issues as they arise. Read more about kit inspections here.

 

Now you have more information about how to maintain your firefighting kit, if you’ve identified that replacement is better than more repairs then take a look at our full range of structural, wildland fire, HVP and rescue kit here, or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Why UK firefighting kit must meet BS EN469:2020 Level 2 standards

A revised version of the European standard for firefighter protective clothing – BS EN469 – has been published in 2020 so we wanted to take the time to explain why UK state brigade kit must meet BS EN469 Level 2 standards.

 

The new European Standard makes several key changes and improvements on the 2005 version and our previous blog explains what the new revisions mean.

 

One element that we know UK-based crews are struggling to make sense of is the Level 1 and Level 2 standards, so here we explain the difference, why it exists and how it applies here in the UK.

 

Understanding the levels

 

The European Standard specifies Level 1 kit for fighting fires in the open, wildland fires, for example. Level 2 kit is full structural kit, the kind that is intended to keep you safe no matter what you are doing. The kind that repels water, contaminants and steam, but lets out sweat.

 

Some clothing meets Level 1 and some clothing meets both Levels 1 and 2.

 

Why UK crews need Level 2 kit and why Level 1 exists

 

Within the EU, particularly in France and Spain, and also in the US, firefighting crews can be split into two units – the ones who go into burning buildings and those who stay outside. Since full structural kit is intended to protect against structural fires, including flashovers, there’s a trade-off between comfort and safety. For those who stay outside, lighter, more breathable kit that conforms to Level 1 will keep the crews safe enough, but those facing the heat and intensity of the fire need far higher levels of protection.

 

Here in the UK, most Fire and Rescue Service crews operate a single crew model, where everyone has to be ready to deal with all situations and levels of risk, meaning full structural kits that conform to Level 2 standards are a must for everyone.

 

Of course, there are still situations where Level 1 kit will do the job: wildland fires, rescue operations (although there are specific wildland and rescue firefighter clothing standards) and clear up operations are easier to do in lighter kit that doesn’t need the same heat or water resistance.

 

Kit for on ships

 

Marine companies must have firefighting kit on board. Few ships have a dedicated firefighting crew, rather a team with firefighting training but other on-board responsibilities. Most fire situations on a ship can be dealt with using a fire extinguisher, while larger events will lead straight to an evacuation, but in the event that crew members face a fire that needs fighting, they’re going to need kit that is similar to EN 469:2020 Level 2, but the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have their own standards.

 

It can be tempting to save costs with a lower specification suit, but in the confined environments on a ship, clothing equivalent to EN 469:2020 Level 1 kits will not be sufficient, exposing firefighting crew to an unnecessary level of risk.

 

The FlamePro Beacon fire fighters kit provides the full range of safety measures for firefighting on the high seas.

 

What to look out for when buying kit

 

The word “lightweight” will be music to the ears of anyone who has had to don full structural firefighting kit, but these items are lightweight for a reason. Lightweight often equals less protection, less heat insulation and no moisture barrier.

 

Moisture barriers are essential for structural kit as they prevent water, pathogens and steam getting to the skin, causing burns and contamination. Level 1 compliant suits don’t have to have this.

 

Not only can FlamePro Level 2 compliant suits be relied on to keep the wearer safe, they also have a fully-fledged PTFE membrane that allows the maximum amount of vapour (sweat) out of the garments. Others may have PU membranes which are more like plastic bags.

 

To understand the British and international standards that apply to firefighting kit, visit the certifications and standards page of our website. Each item in our catalogue, lists which standard it is compliant with so you can buy with confidence, which is useful. now you know why UK state brigade kit must meet BS EN 469 Level 2 standards.

 

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.

What you need to know about the outer fabric of a fire suit

Specifying garments for firefighters is a tough job, with many variables that you need to balance to be sure you get the right kit. The outer shell of your turn-out kit is a critical part of its anatomy, so here’s what you need to know about the outer fabric of a fire suit.

The function of a fire suit’s outer fabric

While not quite the first line of defence for firefighters (that honour goes to the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish applied to it) the fabric on fire suits does play a major part in its function.

It needs to be strong enough to withstand the tough conditions firefighters face on call-outs – from building fires to RTAs – have the right amount of heat protection and breathability, plus contribute to the suit being light and comfortable to wear.

Colour is important. The gold colour so familiar to UK firefighters not only makes it easy to see when a suit needs cleaning, but also contributes to heat protection by radiating heat away from the suit.

What are the fabric options for firefighter gear?

There are a few well-known fabric and fibre options for firefighter protective gear; each has their pros and cons. The best functionality will always be achieved by blending at least two together to harness the positives of each fibre.

The main brands of fibre are PBI, PBO, Kevlar, Nomex and Kermel. FlamePro’s new range of turn-out suits gives fire brigades three options, each comprising different fibre blends and all meeting the new EN469:2020 standard.

At the top of the price range is our new premium turn-out kit, designed using PBI Max, the strongest fabric in the PBI range. It has all of the attributes you will associate with PBI fabrics – low thermal conductivity and retaining its flexibility and strength after two flashovers.

The mid-range suit is constructed from a brand new blend created by Kermel. It matches PBI on strength, will withstand two flashovers and has good colour- and light-fastness. This suit is one of the first on the market to be CE certified.

Our best value suit contains a mix of meta-Aramid and para-Aramid fibres to ensure it has good tensile strength, stands up to tearing and retains its colour.
All of our new range exceeds the requirements of EN469 Class 2, giving you peace of mind that your crews will be protected when on call-outs.

How to choose your brigade’s fire suits

Specifying the right turn-out kit for your brigade depends on striking the right balance on each of the factors – thermal protection, breathability, strength, and comfort. Of these, the outer shell mainly impacts the strength and can impact overall comfort with differences in weight and rigidity.

Once a suit has been confirmed to meet the minimum standard, brigades then need to choose what’s most important to their crews, based on the type of incidents they respond to.

Chat to our friendly experts about what you need to know about the outer fabric of a fire suit to help you decide by calling +44 (0) 1332 341030.

How to understand test results for protective clothing for firefighters

There’s such an enormous amount of information to absorb when choosing your new firefighter gear, it’s important you know how to understand the test results for protective clothing for firefighters.

 

Here’s a simplified explanation of the information you should expect to see from firefighter protective clothing manufacturers and guidance on what to look for in the test results.

 

Checking compliance with the relevant safety standard

The first step in assessing any protective clothing is checking the test certificate has been issued by a Notified Body – one that’s qualified and accredited to do the tests and provide results.

 

Next, you’ll need to know the protective garments meet the standard for firefighter protective clothing. EN469:2020 is the brand new standard which you can expect all gear to meet from early in 2021. Manufacturers do get some grace to ensure their garments are re-tested and certified, so you could also see kit which meets EN469:2005.

 

On the test reports will be a column listing the applicable essential health and safety requirements. There needs to be a tick in every box to demonstrate the protective clothing meets the standard.

 

One incredibly important test is the mannequin flash fire test. This shows what happens to the kit after eight seconds of intense heat simulating a flash fire. You’ll get an indicative burn prediction for second- and third-degree burns – lower numbers are better here. If you can go along to see the test you will also benefit from being able to see what happens to the kit afterwards. Does it break open or retain its strength?

 

The variables in protective clothing for firefighters

Specifying the right kit for your brigade isn’t as straightforward as simply understanding the test results for firefighters’ protective clothing, it’s about striking the right balance between all of the variables that make up a good structural suit. Higher numbers on the tests don’t necessarily mean a suit is “better”.

 

Each manufacturer will choose a different fabric blend, a different shape of suit, and will put the emphasis on some factors more than others, while remaining compliant with the standard.

 

A suit that provides more thermal protection will be heavier, meaning your crews will get tired more quickly and could be more at risk from heat stress. If the suit sacrifices some breathability for protection your teams could suffer scalds or steam burns as moisture builds up inside the suit. You might also want to assess tear strength and burst strength so you have an understanding of how well the suit will stand up to the rigours of the job.

 

In making a selection for your next round of firefighters’ protective clothing you should also consider how many washes and dry cycles the suit will stand. The industry’s understanding of the risk of particulates and other contaminants is increasing; regular washing of kit is one of the major ways to mitigate this risk. If the suit you’re considering is recommended to withstand 50 washes and you’ll need to launder your kit every week, the kit needs replacing in a year.

 

Considering whole of life costs, not just up-front purchase price, is another important factor when choosing protective clothing for your fire brigade.

 

If you’re putting together the specification for your next purchase of structural suits and want to chat through how to understand test results for protective clothing for firefighters, give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Understanding heat stress and how to prevent it

When the average firefighter needs to evaporate about a litre of sweat every hour to regulate their body temperature, understanding heat stress and how to prevent it is useful knowledge for crews.

 

Fighting fires tests the limits of the human body and can increase a firefighter’s body temperature to over 38 degrees. Firefighting kit is designed to help keep the firefighter’s body within the normal range, protecting health and wellbeing.

 

Good hydration and heat acclimatisation are important factors to reduce the impact of heat stress on firefighters, but the key component of heat stress control is the selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

 

Risks of heat stress

 

The risks of heat stress on a firefighter can’t be underestimated. Mild heat stress might start with your firefighting crews tiring more quickly, meaning it takes longer to get a fire under control as they are unable to work as quickly. Left untreated, heat stress can lead to poor decision-making as cognitive function deteriorates, and massive pressure on the body’s natural functions, significantly increasing their risk of a heart attack and death.

 

Insulation

 

Insulation is an important part of any firefighter kit, but it stops heat travelling in both directions. While it is essential to keep the heat of the fire away from the human body, it comes with the risk of preventing body heat leaving the suit.

 

When it’s humid – inside a sweaty firefighting suit, for example – the air in the suit isn’t cool, dry and moving, making it difficult for the vapour to leave the firefighter’s body, reducing the effectiveness of sweating.

 

Moisture barriers that make a difference

 

The moisture barrier in firefighting turnout kits help protect against water, chemicals, and viral agents leaching through on to clothes and skin underneath. But they also need to allow moisture out of the kit to minimise the chances of firefighters suffering from steam burns.

 

All moisture barriers are not created equal. Some suits feature a solid plastic lining, like a bin bag inside your suit. You can imagine how comfortable that’s going to get in the heat of a fire.

 

A good moisture barrier is designed to let vapour through, but not liquid, making a suit breathable. In this way, the moisture barrier plays an important role in regulating body heat as it allows as much sweat and vapour out as possible.

 

There are three types of moisture barrier product technology used in firefighters’ protective garments: microporous, monolithic, or bi-component. Each of these barrier technologies has a different level of effectiveness:

 

• A microporous membrane contains small passages or holes, which allows for air permeability and offers water vapour transfer by air-diffusion.

 

• A monolithic membrane is a continuous polymer layer without any passages (holes), and, therefore, does not have any air permeability. However, breathable monolithic moisture barriers use hydrophilic polymers which allow water vapour transfer through molecular diffusion instead.

 

• A bi-component moisture barrier product uses a combination of microporous and monolithic technologies, and allows no air permeability.

 

Don’t let moisture barriers compromise mobility

 

When it comes to choosing structural fire suits for your crew, it’s important to consider how easy the suits are to move in, the different requirements of the team and the work they do. Making it easy to move helps to reduce muscular strain and in turn heat stress.

 

Passing the test

 

Before you buy firefighting kit for your crew, check the moisture vapour resistance rating (also known as the RET rating), a measure of how breathable the kit is. A lower number is better for this test. Breathability is the key to preventing heat stress. Read more about the tests and standards firefighting kit needs to meet in our blog.

 

For our full range of products, including moisture vapour resistance ratings, take a look at the catalogue on our website. Or if you want to chat to our team to improve your understanding of heat stress and how to prevent it, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

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.

How we create the perfect firefighting kit for your brigade

Here at FlamePro we have a reputation for designing the best kit to protect firefighters from the hazards they face every day. But how do we do that? And what flexibility is there if you’re the one specifying the new kit for your brigade?

 

The FlamePro approach to firefighter garments and PPE

 

Our approach is a tried and tested one – we have a dedicated new product development team who create the foundations of our garments. They scour the market for the best fabrics, the latest technology, the most up-to-date solutions and innovations. Then we create the basic garments using all of that knowledge. This gives us some standard suits across structural, technical rescue and wildland, plus some more specialist gear such as for water rescues.

 

We use these as the basis of all the firefighting garments we create for customers. Each suit also features the small details we know firefighters need, including various pockets and loops for stowage.

 

Designed in the UK, our manufacturing is in Europe and we work hard to ensure that our delivery lead times are the best they can be. Currently we work on six to eight weeks for delivery, cutting in half the industry average delivery time. We even hold stock of some core items, meaning you can have your hands on them in a matter of days.

 

Make the changes you need to make your brigade’s firefighting kit your own

 

We want to provide customers with flexibility, so we can make changes to our standard kit to increase the strength of the fabric, change the weight, or increase or decrease the heat protection. We’re keen on user testing, so work with customers to get their firefighters into our kit so they can give us accurate feedback about how it feels to wear.

 

If yours is a private brigade such as at an airport, you’ll want to use a light-weight suit most of the time as the chances are you’ll be called on to do more rescuing than fighting fires. You can be confident our 770/775 suit will balance your comfort on station with the performance needed to keep you safe when called out. It’s available in four fabrics for different requirements and specifications.

 

In state brigades, less than a third of the incidents attended are fires, with false alarms the most prevalent reasons to turn out (c40%), and non-fire incidents accounting for about a third of shouts. Our 770/775 lightweight suit will also be a great starting point, being comfortable when you’re at the station, and appropriate for attending rescue and other non-fire incidents, removing the need to pull on your kit in the appliance en-route.

 

You might want to add ranks or other identifiers on epaulettes, or if you think you need extra hooks, loops or pockets, we can make that happen for you too.

 

The FlamePro approach

 

We want to give customers cutting-edge technology and the best solution for your needs. We source the best fabrics and make sure that our standard kit has everything you require to face the rigours and dangers of modern firefighting. Any changes you make become the cherry on top of what’s already an industry-leading set of kit.

 

To chat to one of our friendly team about how we combine our design knowledge with the flexibility to create the perfect set of kit for your firefighting brigade, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Rescue-wear for non-fire call-outs

Structural suits will protect your firefighters from heat and contaminants, but they are heavy and can get uncomfortable after a while, which is why we recommend rescue-wear for non-fire call-outs.

 

Rescue-wear is designed to be lighter and allow a greater range of motion while keeping firefighters safe, warm and comfortable in a range of rescue situations, including road traffic collisions (RTCs), first response, non-fire training operations and other related rescue incidents such as working at height.

 

The right kit for the job

 

Having the right set of kit for the right work is essential. You can read more about kit that’s suitable for water based incidents and high volume pumping. And we’ve written another article on wildland fires and the best garments for tackling them.

 

So what’s required from technical rescue suits? Clearly firefighters don’t need protection from excessive heat or flames during rescue operations, which allows for a lot more flexibility. Rescue suits need to be waterproof but breathable to keep crews comfortable whether they’re responding to a RTC in torrential rain or working at height in the summer.

 

FlamePro’s lightweight rescue kit

 

FlamePro has launched a new two-piece jacket and trousers rescue-wear set as well as already stocking a selection of gloves for all rescue situations. The technical kit is waterproof with an internal membrane to keep firefighters dry. They are also resistant to antiviral and blood borne pathogens to keep firefighters safe.

 

These new sets are also the first rescue-wear kits that glow in the dark, going beyond the typical high vis strips to provide improved visibility – particularly useful in winter when 14-16 hours out of every 24 are dark here in the UK.

 

The jacket has inner wrist cuffs with a thumb loop to increase comfort in the jacket as well as weatherproofing and a double band 50mm triple-trim around ankle cuffs in the trousers.

 

For our full range of rescue wear for non-fire call-outs, including lists of the benefits and features, visit our website or give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

The best garments for tackling wildland fires

Twenty-first century firefighters need to respond to a range of risks and incidents and their kit needs to help them do that, so what are the best garments for tackling wildland fires? What are the advantages of having specialist wildland fire turnout kit and what other situations can it be used for?

 

Why does tackling wildland fires need different kit?

 

With wildland fires an increasing risk in the UK – they were only added to the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies in 2012 – firefighters need flexible kit that will help them do their job in the very particular circumstances wildland fires create.

 

By their nature, wildland fires tend to happen in remote areas, meaning firefighters may have to walk a long way from appliances, often carrying hoses and other equipment.

 

While the heat isn’t as ferocious as being in a burning building, it can still be intense. And as wildland fires are often a risk during heatwaves, firefighters not only have to contend with heat generated by the fire, but the ambient air temperature as well. This can increase the risk of suffering from heat stress.

 

There can be more than one fire raging during a wildland incident, creating increased levels of radiant heat, but also additional locations in need of response. Of all the types of incidents, wildland fires are the ones which tend to go on the longest.

 

The best wildland fire PPE

 

Dedicated turn-out kit for wildland fires will be lightweight and allow firefighters to cover the distances needed. It doesn’t really need the heat protection that standard turn-out kit needs, which means they are usually single-layer, highly breathable garments.

 

Wildland leggings have a closure at the bottom to stop sparks, smoke and debris going up the legs and exposing firefighters to carbon and particulates on the skin. Wearing just a t-shirt on the firefighters’ top half also leaves their arms exposed to heat and particulates. Walking through wildland conditions in structural leggings will likely damage them, and the weight and heat protection the structural suit provides means the firefighter is wearing something unnecessarily heavy.

 

When operating over large areas, and sometimes from multiple state brigades, the kit also needs to ensure firefighters are swiftly identifiable, using colours such as red which will stand out against the landscape. Most structural kit is now gold, which acts as great camouflage against the moorland landscape. Reflective elements are also helpful as efforts to fight wildland fires can continue overnight.

 

Like all professional firefighting kit, garments designed for tackling wildland fires will have a good range of pockets for storing radios and other essential equipment.

 

FlamePro’s comprehensive wildland fire garment range

 

Garments designed for wildland fire response share many of the same qualities needed for rescue suits, so our wildland range is intended to be multi-purpose. This multifunctional approach saves your brigade from having to buy extra firefighting PPE.

 

All of our wildland firefighting garments conform to EN15614:2007, the European standard for wildland firefighting clothing. There is a new standard – EN15 – which our new wildland garments range conforms to.

 

Our next generation of wildland garments are made from a new fabric which is stronger and more comfortable, it’s lightweight and contains anti-abrasion fabric, glow-in-the-dark tape for low-light operations. Like our previous range, it’s made from a single layer of lightweight yet strong fabric, providing the right level of protection without being too heavy to wear for long periods when tackling wild fires.

 

For advice about the best garments for tackling wildland fires give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Best garments for high volume pumping incidents

Best garments for firefighters attending high volume pumping incidents

They aren’t one of the most common forms of shout but still need specialist support from firefighting brigades, so what are the best garments for firefighters attending high volume pumping (HVP) incidents?

What kind of conditions do firefighters face at high volume pumping incidents?

HVPs are more usually used during flooding incidents – whether caused by rivers overtopping their banks or surface water flooding when large volumes of rain mean road-side drains can’t cope.

This usually results in firefighters spending long hours wading around in many inches of water while operating pumps, so waterproof rubber boots are a must.

It may still be raining, so kit needs to provide suitable protection from the elements while allowing firefighters to not get too hot or too cold.

High volume pumps can also be deployed when a significant amount of water needs moving very quickly. HVPs were used at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire in 2019 after a reservoir dam wall threatened to collapse. Sections of the spillway were washed away during heavy rain, leading to a major incident being declared and to the evacuation of 1,500 residents.

During the incident 150 firefighters were based on scene, using HVPs that removed 70,000 litres of water a minute from the reservoir as emergency services battled to reduce the water levels and with them the threat of a total collapse.

What is the best kit for firefighters to wear at high volume pumping incidents?

Clearly firefighters don’t need protection from heat or flames during HVP operations, so the best kind of kit will be single-layer, waterproof and lightweight so they can easily move around.

Standard turn-out gear is also well-insulated, and can get heavy and soggy if exposed to the relentless rain that goes hand-in-hand with flooding incidents. It’s important that HVP kit is lightweight due to the physical nature of the job – manning pumps, unrolling kilometres of hoses and joining them all together, then packing everything away when the job is done.

Crews need to be identifiable as firefighters and being able to be seen is still important, so both the overall look, branding and reflective elements need to be consistent with recognised state brigade standards.

Boots in standard turn-out kit are sometimes described as waterproof, but they are designed to resist the splashes created when tackling fires with hoses, rather than paddling around in many inches of flood water. Rubber boots are more suitable for HVP incidents as firefighters can be certain they’ll have dry feet by the end of the shift.

FlamePro’s specialist high volume pumping garments

Our range of specialist HVP garments is the best option when thinking about kit for these distinctive incidents.

Our new generation HVP salopettes, jacket and coverall are being launched in October 2020. Made from technical fabric with a breathable membrane, our HVP garments give you the best combination of protection from the elements while being lightweight to wear. And they all come with the usual range of thoughtful pockets, loops and stowage options that FlamePro is known for.

Combine our HVP waterproof coverall with fully waterproof Skellerup Firefighting Boots so your crews don’t end up complaining of having soggy feet. Add a Tytan helmet and gloves to ensure that your firefighters have all the protection they need.

For advice about the best garments for firefighters attending high volume pumping incidents give one of our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Why do you need a particulate flash hood?

Protecting firefighters from the particulates found in soot and smoke has become an increasing concern for both brigades and firefighters themselves.

There’s lots of information about why particulates are considered dangerous and how to stay protected but there’s one major area of vulnerability – the head and neck.

What’s a particulate flash hood?

Standard firefighting kit protects from particulates by catching them on the outside of the three layers of a firefighting suit. A membrane inside the garments means the particulates can’t penetrate through to get on to the skin, and potentially into a firefighter’s bloodstream.

But if firefighters wear their kit and just a helmet and standard flash hood the face and neck is left exposed without any protection from the soot and smoke which carries particulates.

Specific particulate flash hoods cover the neck and head to ensure that there is maximum protection from particulates. They should fit snugly under the helmet so firefighters can get on with the job in comfort.

What particulate flash hood options are there?

Fire-fighting hoods are generally made to cover the head and neck, or head, neck and shoulders, depending on the intended use.

Some brigades have used double-layer flash hoods but without a membrane, which were widely considered as almost disposable because of the relatively low cost. But they don’t provide particulate protection.

Lots of particulate hoods are made from the same material and in the same way as standard turn-out kit. This means they use a membrane between the fabric to ensure that particulates can’t penetrate through.

But this method of making particulate hoods makes them heavy, inflexible and not breathable – something which can increase the chances of heat stress, one of the top causes of injury to firefighters.

Older versions of fire hoods have previously been manufactured without particulate protection because the research about particulates and their dangers came to the fore in 2017.

As experts in fire-fighting kit, Flame Pro has developed a new particulate flash hood which not only protects from the particles known to cause cancer and other illnesses but is also lighter and comfier than other hoods.

Why choose FlamePro’s particulate flash hood?

Flame Pro’s new particulate flash hood utilises Nomex ® Nano Flex, a high-performance material developed specifically to be thinner than standard Fire Resistant (FR) materials. The revolutionary fibre enables a particulate protection flash hood to be as comfortable as a standard hood by allowing air through, but not particulates. It’s also lighter and more flexible.

According to fabric makers DuPont: “A highly breathable FR material with exceptional elasticity and superior particle barrier performance, Nomex® Nano Flex is also thinner and lighter weight than other FR materials…In fact, it results in up to a 4X increase in particle barrier efficiency.”

The Flame Pro one-size-fits-all new generation particulate flash hood is designed to be laundered, making it much better value than other options for head and neck protection which are worn a few times and then disposed of.

Incredibly, the hood provides up to 96% filtration which actually increases with laundering – and it’s not significantly more expensive than other options.

Other benefits include:

• Low noise – unlike hoods made from PTFE or PU, noise from the hood is very low

• Exceptional breathability – it doesn’t trap heat like PTFE/PU options

• Outer shell DWR finish – allows it to dry faster, reducing the build-up of toxic residues

The particulate flash hood also conforms to BS13911, and NFPA 1971 2018, which is the only published standard for particulate protection flash hoods.

To chat to one of our friendly team about the benefits of our particulate flash protection hood, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Protecting firefighters from exposure to harmful particulates

All firefighters know that there are many more risks to their health than just fire. Awareness about protecting firefighters from exposure to particulates – found in soot and smoke – has increased over the last few years and is as much about the right clothing as it is about safe working practices and care and maintenance of kit.

Why do firefighters need to protect themselves from exposure to particulates?

Reducing exposure to particulates is critical, because they can cling to protective kit and can get into the blood stream, putting firefighters at increased risk of cancer.

According to the FBU, “there is now mounting evidence that firefighters are at a higher risk of carcinogens and other contaminants than the rest of the population.” In the US and Canada, cancer is documented as the leading cause of death for firefighters and former firefighters.

Particulates are thought to be one of the contributing factors to the increased risks of cancer for firefighters, but the job also includes exposure to fumes and materials such as asbestos.

It’s important to understand how firefighters become exposed to particulates, and how to reduce the risk of exposure.

How firefighters can protect themselves from the particulates in soot and smoke

Recent studies conclude that particulates are most likely to enter a firefighter’s body through the skin, although they can also be breathed in.

There are several steps that firefighters can take to protect themselves from particulates, which include things to do before, during, and after an incident. Making sure you have the best protection is about a combination of working practices and having the right kit for the job.

Before an incident it’s important to assess your PPE. It’s no longer a badge of honour to wear the dirtiest kit. We now know that dirty kit is most likely to have particulates on it, and that handling it and wearing it again can increase the chances of exposure.

Your kit needs to fit properly, be in good condition, and be stored in an area with good ventilation so that any fumes from previous incidents can evaporate.

During a shout, firefighters need to be wearing the right kit and using the right equipment – respirators for damping down, for example, and breathing apparatus if there’s likely to be airborne combustible particles in the area. Standing upwind of a fire so your smoke exposure is minimised is second nature to many, but it’s advice that bears repeating.

Keeping the windows and doors of the appliance shut if there’s lots of smoke also helps to maintain a clean environment to travel back to the station in.

Having the right kit – with the right level of particulate protection – is also critical to limiting a firefighter’s exposure to harmful particulates. The head and neck area are exposed if firefighters only wear a helmet, creating a vulnerability. Wearing a breathable particulate hood which helps keep you cooler while providing particulate protection will keep firefighters protected from particulates and comfortable in challenging environments.

Particulate protection after an incident – the importance of cleaning and storing kit properly

Actions after the incident can also make a big impact on a firefighter’s potential exposure to particulates. Getting out of dirty kit as soon as possible, preferably in a clean area designated for removing PPE, is important. Wearing a dust mask and disposable gloves would also be good practice.

Dirty kit should be bagged and sent for appropriate cleaning. There is a British Standard for cleaning firefighting kit – BS8617:2019 – which specifies how and how often kit should be laundered and maintained.

Simple, seemingly innocuous actions can also create a risk. For example, storing dirty gloves inside a helmet can eventually transfer particulates on to a firefighter’s head, creating a risk they will be transferred to the bloodstream.

Staying safe from the risks of particulates needs a combination of awareness, the right PPE, safe working practices, plus the right care and maintenance.

To chat to one of our experts about protecting firefighters from exposure to smoke particulates and the right firefighting kit for your brigade, give us a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

The changing role of firefighters

Fire brigades are now officially known as fire and rescue services – a title which reflects the changing role and demands placed on them. Fighting fires is no longer the only thing they get called on to do, in fact, it isn’t even the most consistently attended type of incident, according to statistics.

 

Best garments for firefighters attending high volume pumping incidents

 

Fire brigades are now officially known as fire and rescue services – a title which reflects the changing role and demands placed on them. Fighting fires is no longer the only thing they get called on to do, in fact, it isn’t even the most consistently attended type of incident, according to statistics.

 

What are fire and rescue brigades called on to do?

 

According to the UK Government’s latest statistics (for the year up to December 2019) there were 555,759 incidents requiring fire and rescue service attendance. Of these, 28% (157,156) were fires, including secondary fires (those not involving people or property) – a 12% decrease on the previous year.

 

False alarm fires were the type of incident most attended at 41%and non-fire incidents 30%.

 

Non-fire incidents include attendance at flooding, road traffic collisions and animal incidents, along with attending collaboration incidents such as helping other agencies enter/exit from an incident.

 

44% of the fires attended in the year to December 2019 were primary fires, a 6% decrease on the previous year. Dwelling fires, other building fires and vehicle fires all reduced by similar numbers (between 4 and 5 percent).

 

Dwelling fires made up the biggest proportion of primary fires, but there have been large decreases in structural fires over the past two decades, due in part to the education and fire safety role of the Fire and Rescue Service, but also driven by an increase in adoption of smoke alarms.

 

Since October 2015 landlords in the UK have been required to fit smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors where possible, in their properties. Building Regulations also prescribe the type and location of smoke and fire alarm systems for new buildings.

 

Is firefighter PPE fit for every job?

 

As the role of firefighters has changed, with response now relatively evenly split between fire and non-fire incidents, are full structural firefighting suits still suitable for every incident?

 

If brigades only provide one set of response kit, how can it be right for all possible scenarios?

 

Firefighting kit made for entering fires needs to provide protection from extreme heat and smoke. This necessarily makes it heavy and cumbersome to wear. Is that the right kit to respond to a road traffic incident with people requiring cutting from vehicles? Or to assist with flooding incidents?

 

Even when responding to fires, how many times do firefighters actually have to go into the flames instead of dealing with the fire from a distance? This raises questions for the industry to answer: does that mean that current turn-out kit is “over-specified”? And does that result in problems of its own, such as firefighters suffering from heat stress, which causes exhaustion, due to wearing hot, heavy kit when its fire protection benefits aren’t required?

 

What’s the alternative?

 

This is the key question. There are a host of factors to take into account: operational, safety, stowage, updating procedures, budget… there is no easy answer. However, most would agree there needs to be some improvement.

 

We make a range of standard and bespoke solutions suitable for differing jobs such high volume pumping, tackling wildfires and attending rescue incidents. The priorities are kit that’s lightweight but also practical and tough. All kit needs to be tough enough to provide protection and designed with practicality in mind.

 

Some brigades are now using a technical rescue jacket, which can be worn when responding to non-fire incidents.

 

What other clothing options would work for your brigade? What difference would station clothing that was fire resistant and comfortable make if it meant you could avoid donning full kit for every shout?

 

Our new product development team works hard to bring to market the best in firefighting kit and we’re keen to reflect the modern firefighting environment. What clothing or kit would you like to see brought to market?

 

To discuss the options for your brigade, give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

How useful are test results when choosing new firefighter kit?

All firefighter PPE must conform to a range of international and British standards, but how useful are the test results when choosing your firefighters’ kit? How can you be sure that you have created the right specification for your new firefighting PPE? And what are the elements to consider before making a decision on what to buy?

 

What standards must firefighting garments meet?

 

Firefighting clothing must meet a variety of international and British standards including:

 

• EN 469:2005 – minimum protection requirements for protective clothing for firefighters, measured as Level 1 (lower protection) and Level 2 (higher protection)

• EN 13911 – protective clothing and hoods for firefighters

• BS 8617:2019 – cleaning, maintenance and repair

 

There are additional standards for helmets, footwear, gloves, eye protection and a range of other firefighting PPE.

 

Each garment will be tested by an independent specialist laboratory and a test report issued. But as with many things, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

 

What is firefighting kit tested for?

 

The four main areas of performance that firefighting clothing is tested for are:

 

• Heat protection rating

• Breathability rating

• Ergonomic rating

• Moisture vapour resistance rating

 

Firefighting suits are made up of layers – usually an outer layer, a moisture and particulate barrier and a thermal lining. Getting the right balance of all three so that the firefighting gear both offers protection and doesn’t hamper the wearer or put them at increased risk of exhaustion is the holy grail of kit design.

 

Clearly clothing made for tackling fires needs to be able to protect the wearer from heat – but what’s the Goldilocks standard? When does too much heat protection become a problem for other areas of performance?

 

An increased heat protection rating will increase the weight of the kit and how hot the wearer will get. This decreases the breathability rating. So where is the sweet-spot for the right level of heat protection which also gives your firefighters enough breathability?

 

The minimum standard for heat protection is 13 – do you need to specify a higher number if that means your team will tire more quickly and be hotter when working, putting them at increased risk of heat exhaustion?

 

The ergonomic rating tells you how easy it is to move around in the kit, but the assumption is that the easier it is to move around, the more compromises have been made on heat protection due to the materials available but with the right kit that doesn’t have to be the case. Again, it’s about finding the right balance between the protection offered and the practicalities of wear.

 

The moisture vapour resistance rating (also known as the RET rating) is a measure of how breathable the kit is. A lower number is better for this test.

 

The moisture barrier in firefighting turnout kits help protect against water, chemicals, and viral agents leaching through on to clothes and skin underneath. But they also need to allow moisture out of the kit to minimise the chances of firefighters suffering from steam burns.

 

How to decide on the right firefighting kit for you?

 

With such a large number of variables for each individual piece of firefighting kit, the very best way to decide on what’s right for your brigade is to do some user acceptance testing. Once you’re satisfied the kit meets the minimum standards to keep your crews safe, testing the kit in the field and getting feedback from your team will help you make the right choice.

 

The kit you choose might depend on the types of incidents you predominantly respond to but should heavily take account of the views of your crews on what kit helps them work for longer or keeps them cooler.

 

Even kit with very similar testing results may operate differently when used in the field, so deciding on the right firefighting kit for your brigade cannot be a paper exercise. It needs to take account of the realities of what your crews are asked to do, and how the kit helps them do that job.

 

For advice on how useful tests are when choosing your firefighting kit – or on any aspect of firefighting PPE – give one of our friendly team a call today on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

What to look for when specifying new firefighting kit

If you’re responsible for the firefighting kit for your fire and rescue service, it can be a vast undertaking and knowing what to look for when specifying new kit is critical. Staying up to date with the latest technology and products will help keep the firefighters in your services safe, preventing injury and even death.

 

It’s a complex task and one that state brigades usually only undertake every eight years or so. You’ll need to familiarise yourself with standards, lab test results, types of fabric, and strike a balance between comfort and safety. It’s a huge responsibility and one taken seriously by every buyer we’ve advised.

 

The right kit at the right time

 

If essential kit is damaged, you’ll want a replacement ASAP to make sure your firefighters are safe and prepared for the next call. Unfortunately, the industry has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to order lead times that meet customer expectations. Far from the next day delivery we’re used to in our personal lives, the industry standard for delivery of firefighting kit is still 12-18 weeks. That’s a long time to be waiting on life-preserving kit!

 

At FlamePro, we manufacture in Europe and keep items in stock. If you’re ordering standard items, you can expect to receive them in just a few days. Made to order items are guaranteed within 6-8 weeks, halving the industry standard and making sure you have what you need when you need it.

 

Balancing comfort and effectiveness

 

If your crew are spending several hours working hard in all weathers, comfort will be key, but knowing the situations firefighters face, there can be no compromise on safety. When specifying kit, it’s essential that your crew member can say it feels good on their back. This is where looking at user trials rather than just test results can give you the best kind of information.

 

Structural suits are heavy. And with 31 per cent of call outs being non-fire related incidents, over specifying on heat resistance can mean kit is heavier to wear than necessary, making it hotter and subjecting firefighters to unnecessary heat stress.

 

The right kit for the task

 

While state crews are fighting fires on 28% of calls, private crews – at airports and petrochemical sites, for example – spend the majority of their time rescuing people from heights and other non-fire call outs.

 

It’s important, therefore, to consider what your firefighters need. While a full structural kit will always be an essential for those call outs that do involve fire, the second kit could be a lightweight kit that provides protection against the elements, but is easier and more comfortable to wear when not working in intense heat.

 

When specifying your kit, consider what your crew does the most and what they need to keep them safe and comfortable when they’re doing it. Do you only need one type of turnout kit, or would a couple of versions give your crews the flexibility they need?

 

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right suit for your firefighters. Like, whether or not there is enough heat resistance, or whether you want a more breathable option. Using our performance grading scales you’ll be able to easily find the suit for you. You can learn about the fabrics which make up each suit too. We know it’s important that you make the right choice.

 

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

How often should you replace your firefighting kit?

Firefighting kit has a number of functions; it protects crew members in a wide range of situations and makes them instantly recognisable in an emergency. Replacing your kit at the right time keeps you safe and comfortable, no matter what the shout is for.

 

According to the UK Home Office, in the last year, 28 per cent of call-outs involved responding to fires, 42 per cent were fire false alarms and 31 per cent were non-fire incidents. Non-fire incidents have increased from 23 per cent of call outs ten years ago.

 

The five largest categories of non-fire incidents in the last year were road traffic collisions, effecting entry/exit, assisting other agencies, medical incidents, and flooding incidents. This demonstrates the breadth of tasks a firefighter might be expected to complete when wearing their kit. In a nutshell, you need to be ready for anything!

 

Making your firefighting kit last

 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves by focusing only on replacement; there are ways of making your firefighting kit last. Inspecting it after every shout and regular cleaning and maintenance will make your kit last as long as possible.

 

We’ve written useful blog posts on how to inspect your kit and how to maintain your kit to help fire and rescue services to get the most out of your most important investment.

 

When does turnout kit expire?

 

Technically there’s not a blanket expiry date for firefighting kit, though manufacturers might specify the lifespan of individual garments. The new British Standard for the inspection, testing, cleaning, decontamination, drying, repairs, replacement and retirement/ disposal of firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) is BS8617. Published in 2019, it recommends that firefighting kit should be replaced at least every 10 years.

 

So the answer to the question: how often should I replace my firefighting kit? is at least every 10 years, according to the British Standard, but there are reasons for not waiting that long.

 

Should I replace my firefighting kit sooner?

 

While private fire and rescue services might not face too many call outs, state operated fire and rescue services in England responded to 557,299 incidents in the last year. Of these, 153,957 were fires.

 

With so much opportunity for wear and tear, it’s inevitable that firefighting kit will reach the point of needing to be replaced.

 

In some instances, it might simply make economic sense. If a new jacket costs upwards of £200, for example, and has already had £150 invested in repairs, it might be more cost effective to replace the jacket the next time it is damaged instead of paying for another repair. Professional care and maintenance companies will inspect kit every time it goes for cleaning and should provide advice about when kit should be condemned as it’s unsafe to wear, or when it makes more economic sense to replace it.

 

Fit is essential. When the London Fire Brigade replaced its firefighting kit in 2018, Deputy Commissioner Tom George acknowledged that they needed a kit that could support and protect crews in a range of incidents whether fighting fires, freeing people trapped in crashed cars or complex rescues from collapsed buildings.

 

Firefighting kit must also be retired if it has been contaminated by chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear agents.

 

Now you know how to identify when your firefighting kit is past it’s best and how often you should be replacing your kit, take a look at our full range of structural, wildland fire, HVP and rescue kit here, or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Floods and High Volume Pumping

High volume pumping is often an unappreciated aspect of a fire and rescue service’s capabilities.

 

That is, until we experience the extreme weather and subsequent flooding like we saw in the north of England this month (Nov 2019). During these difficult times firefighters are tasked with removing water from at risk areas and moving it to somewhere a bit more secure. To do this they often use hoses hundreds of metres long and very powerful pumps.

 

Flooding can be devastating to communities. Firefighters are often tasked with redirecting the huge volumes of water; to do that, they have to get wet. Our 402/403 HVP suit is specially designed for exactly these times. Waterproof, lightweight, brightly coloured and keeps the expensive structural suit safe in the station.

 

We know it’s important that you make the right choice. If you would like any further advice on what to look for when specifying your new firefighting kit don’t hesitate to get in touch or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

BS 8617:2019 is here, are you ready?

Everything you need to know about the new firefighter PPE cleaning, maintenance and repair standard.

 

It has been a long time coming but it’s finally here. As you know, the fear of contaminants has been a hot topic for a while now. This new standard aims to give guidance for cleaning, maintenance and repair of firefighters’ PPE. It covers a lot: inspection, testing, cleaning, decontamination, drying, repairs, replacement, and retirement/disposal. It even covers recording, storage and transportation.

 

BS 8617:2019 is applicable to garments, helmets, gloves, footwear and firehoods worn by anyone involved in firefighting and associated activities. If you’re responsible for cleaning, maintaining or repairing firefighter PPE, then listen up.

 

Remember, the standard doesn’t specifically explain how to undertake procedures, it simply states what those procedures should be.

 

Let’s start with inspection:

 

There are two types of inspection indicated in BS 8617:2019: routine and advanced. I’ll only talk about the routine inspection here because that is what will apply to most of you and will be conducted far more often. In fact, you’ll be doing a routine inspection every time you get a new piece of kit, at the start of every shift, after you use the kit and any other time you deem an inspection to be required. So, quite regularly, indeed.

 

You’ll need to inspect each piece of your kit (Garments, Helmets, Gloves, footwear and firehoods) for the following:

 

1. Soiling

2. Contamination

3. Physical damage

4. Missing pieces

5. Damaged reflection strips

6. Kit specific damage (like checking the soles of boots)

 

There is a lot of detail for each piece of kit. We’ll be creating “how-tos” which will show how to inspect each piece of kit in accordance with BS 8617:2019, starting with the Jacket, in a few weeks.

 

If anything fails the routine inspection, then it’s time to submit that piece of fire kit for advanced inspection. It’s important to have procedures set up to implement this.

 

Testing

 

You can rest assured that if you buy kit from FlamePro, tests have been done to ensure it is fit for purpose. However, each garment goes on a different journey once we hand it over to you. BS 8617:2019 recommends that further testing may be required after the kit has exceeded its expected lifecycle or after a particularly intense event where performance may have been compromised. We’d be happy to organise testing by an independent and specialised organisation if you have any concerns.

 

Cleaning and decontamination

 

This is a very important section of the new standard. This section details how to keep kit clean, on a daily basis by firefighters, and how to avoid cross contamination. There are two types of PPE (soft and hard) and two levels of cleaning (routine and advanced).

 

Routine cleaning would ideally take place (or at least begin) at the emergency scene. If that’s not possible there should be a designated area at the station to complete the process.

 

Routine cleaning is very simple (and applies to soft and hard PPE):

 

• A gentle brush or wipe off

• Rinse with water

• Dry (air dry only)

 

Please be aware that heavy scrubbing, high pressure water jets and force drying are not to be used.

 

Advanced Cleaning is more complicated:

 

Don’t worry too much about how the cleaning is conducted at this level. This cleaning will be completed off site. the important thing for you to understand is how to prepare for this cleaning:

 

After an incident – straight after, before getting in the truck – kit should be presented to trained personnel to determine if level 1 or level 2 cleaning is needed. If it is deemed that level 2 is needed, then the garments must be doffed and double-bagged. If it is soft PPE, then the first bag should be water-soluble. All bagged items should be sent for level 2 cleaning. We offer a fully compliant care and maintenance program; please get in touch to discuss how we can help.

 

This segues nicely into the next section:

 

Repair and Replacement

 

All repairs that we would conduct on your garments are done by trained personnel. We ensure we follow the strict guidelines laid out in this standard and make sure our products continue to live up to your expectations.

 

Retirement and disposal

 

How to know when it’s time to retire firefighters’ PPE? If any of the below are true, it’s time to move on.

 

1.It’s over 10 years since manufacture.

2. It is after the lifespan as determined by the manufacturer.

3. It’s not possible or cost effective to repair damage to the kit.

4. It has been contaminated by CBRN agents.

5. It’s important to have procedures in place to allow for quick replacement of retired PPE.

 

Disposing of firefighters’ retired PPE should be done in such a way that it will not be used in any firefighting or emergency activities, this includes live fire training. It’s also essential that tracking devices and all marks that could identify your organisation, or the wearer, be removed.

 

Recording and traceability

 

BS 8617:2019 makes it very clear that your PPE should be fully traceable. The following records should be kept for each item:

• The person(s) the PPE is issued to

• Date and condition when issues

• Manufacturer and model name/design

• Manufacturer’s identification number

• Month and year of manufacture

• Date(s) and findings of advanced inspection(s)

• Date of level 2 cleaning

• Date(s) of repair(s), who performed the repair(s), brief description of the repair(s) and batch number of repair materials (may be appropriate to take a picture)

• Date of retirement

• Date and method of disposal

 

Storage

 

Don’t store your PPE with sharp objects or anything else that could damage the kit.

 

PPE should not be stored in direct sunlight, in airtight containers, vacuum packed, at extreme temperatures (below -32 or above 82) or in contact with contaminates. This is all assuming that the PPE has been cleaned before storage (which it should be if there is intent to reuse). Soiled PPE should be stored in such a way that it cannot cause cross-contamination. Contain this kit as if before laundry (double bagged). Do not store in living quarters or with personal belongings.

 

Transportation

 

When transporting soiled PPE try to avoid doing so in private cars or public transport. Remember, the main aim here is to avoid contaminants to every care must be taken to avoid cross-contamination.

 

We know it’s important that you make the right choice. If you would like any further advice on what to look for when specifying your new firefighting kit don’t hesitate to get in touch or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

5 things FlamePro takes care of so you don’t have to

Purchasing the firefighter PPE for your team is a huge responsibility.

 

You’re choosing the garments which protect them in life or death situations, no small decision. The gravity of your choice doesn’t stop the process from being a long, drawn-out, monotonous bore. FlamePro is here to help. Obviously, the safety of your team is our number one priority, but we have put in place ways to save you time and effort too.

 

1. Going to Tender.

 

Tenders are a long process. First you must research the market, then you have to research the companies, then you have to design and spec, then you have to come up with a way to score the process, and then a million more steps. You’ll probably finally get your firefighter PPE 18 months after you started, and it may not even be what you really wanted.

Enter the professional buying organisation! Let me tell you about ESPO. ESPO is a professional buying organisation which provides goods to the public sector. Owned by the public sector, it is a one-stop shop of over 25,000 products, 120 frameworks and bespoke procurement services. ESPO provide free support and advice from teams of experts. And here’s the good news! As of September 2019, FlamePro is a supplier to ESPO. That means that you can you can make buying decisions more confidently and with ease. ESPO has done all the hard work for you, so you can trust that what you buy is fully compliant. Buying FlamePro gear has never been easier. There’s no longer any need for drawn out tenders because ESPO has fully approved our firefighter PPE for you.

 

2. Dealing with multiple companies.

 

So, you talk to one company for your gloves, another company for your boots and one more for every other piece of kit. You compare product, discuss pricing and organise delivery ten times!

 

The Solve: Speak to one of the experts here at FlamePro and we’ll help you with everything, from head to toe. Easy!

 

3. Endless Research.

 

Wow, there really are a lot of options out there aren’t there. Does that boot work with these gloves? What about helmets? It can be very overwhelming trying to ingest all the specifications, standards and data.

 

The Solve: We have specially selected accessories and combined them into useful bundles. Visit our website and find exactly what you’re looking for by filtering our accessory bundles by application or industry. Or give us a call and we’ll give you a recommendation.

 

4. Waiting for your kit.

 

How frustrating is it to order your firefighter PPE only to wait 6 months before it turns up?! It simply isn’t realistic for you to have to plan so far in advance for potentially just one or two kits.

 

The Solve: FlamePro hold stock of much of our range so a 2-day lead isn’t unheard of. For manufactured orders we’ll have it with you in 6-8 weeks. When speed is required, FlamePro have you covered.

 

5. Care and Maintenance.

 

As you know: a firefighter suit is only as strong as its weakest seam. And with this new understanding of the risks of contaminated gear, it’s no surprise that care and maintenance is high on many of your agendas. Ad hoc cleaning is becoming a thing of the past and neglecting the maintenance of your firefighter ppe is simply dangerous. The importance doesn’t stop the process from being frustrating and mundane.

 

The Solve: With a FlamePro care and maintenance package we care for and clean all your garments on a regular basis so you can relax, it’s taken care of.

 

Like I said earlier, our first priority is keeping your team safe. Making your life easier is a great added bonus!

 

We know it’s important that you make the right choice. If you would like any further advice on what to look for when specifying your new firefighting kit don’t hesitate to get in touch or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.

Heat stress: a serious issue facing firefighters

Let’s talk heat stress: a serious issue facing firefighters across the globe.

 

 

The first step towards finding a solution to the problem of heat stress is understanding what heat stress is and how it affects firefighters. This problem is much more than the office thermostat being set to the wrong temperature (It’s too hot Karen, turn the thermostat down!). In extreme cases heat stress can be fatal.

 

 

The human body is designed to function within a very specific temperature range, between 36.5 and 37.5 Celsius is ideal, just one degree. Luckily, we have ways to regulate our temperature: if we’re too cold we shiver to heat our muscles, too hot and we sweat. Sweat helps our body cool down by giving the heat a route to escape. Beads of sweat fill with heat energy before turning to vapour and taking the heat with away. For sweat to work most effectively the air around you will be windy, cold and dry. Humidity would mean that there is less room for vapour to leave your body (if you’ve ever been to Florida you’ll understand).

 

 

“What actually is heat stress?” we hear you ask. Well, if your body is no longer able to regulate your core temperature you will begin to overheat which can have catastrophic consequences. Not only does heat stress reduce a person’s ability to concentrate (really important for firefighters in life and death situations!), it can cause fatigue, confusion, convulsions and will eventually mean losing consciousness.

 

As we mentioned, sweating is the best way to get heat out of the body and it works best in dry, cold and windy conditions. So, as you can imagine, an enclosed and insulated suit may not promote the perfect perspiration environment. Insulation is an important part of any fire kit because it keeps all that extreme heat away from the wearer, unfortunately it also keeps all the body heat in. Firefighters work hard, really hard, it’s an extremely physical job which means they create a lot of body heat. The challenge is finding a way to get the heat out of the suit without letting heat from the outside, in. For this we use something called a moisture barrier made by Stedfast. A moisture barrier is a clever bit of material which lets vapour through but not liquid, making the suit breathable and allowing the wearer to sweat away the heat, all without letting water, harmful chemicals or pathogens in!

 

FlamePro want to push boundaries in every layer of a fire kit, that’s why our relationship with Stedfast is so invaluable. Not only do they have brilliant laminating capabilities and fantastic membrane technologies, they always impress with their delivery times. FlamePro still have the best lead times in the industry and companies like Stedfast help us achieve that.

 

We know it’s important that you make the right choice. If you would like any further advice on what to look for when specifying your new firefighting kit don’t hesitate to get in touch or call one of our experts on +44 (0) 1332 341030.