Explaining EN16689:2017 – Technical Rescue Clothing

Firefighter dressed in FlamePro Technical PPE

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.