Firehouse® Magazine invited a representative sampling of personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers to join our latest roundtable discussion centering on firefighter safety issues. We thank the companies participating in this roundtable and invite other manufacturers to join in...
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Firehouse® Magazine invited a representative sampling of personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers to join our latest roundtable discussion centering on firefighter safety issues. We thank the companies participating in this roundtable and invite other manufacturers to join in future discussions.
Q: Is there any consideration to adding other types of drag-rescue devices to the turnout coat, aside from the device behind the firefighter's neck?
MORDECAI: The current generation of drag-rescue devices in turnout jackets addresses the concerns expressed by firefighters about the difficulty of removing a downed firefighter. Rather than add additional devices to the turnout gear (with associated issues of training, less than complete availability, and cost), it might have more value to utilize Class 2 harnesses with current drag-rescue devices and invest more in training.
WYMAN: We already offer a system called the "Five Man Carry DRD." The patented system includes straps in the knees and the shoulders, as well as in the traditional place in the back of the neck. The idea behind the system was to make it easy for a rapid intervention team to quickly evacuate a downed firefighter over difficult terrain. We also offer the patented "Metro DRD," which includes a connection across the firefighter's chest which, when deployed, hugs the chest like a bear hug, ensuring the coat doesn't come off during a rescue.
MONDOUX: The drag-rescue device behind the firefighter's lower neck can still be considered in the fire service as a relatively new option on turnout coats. We feel that it has been relatively well accepted by the firefighters and being used. Other types of drag-rescue devices to turnout coats may still be a little premature at this time, as we are still gathering information from training instructors and actual rescues on the functionality of this drag-rescue device in the turnout coat.
LEHTONEN: LION is continually reviewing concepts and ideas to enhance firefighter safety and different options for the drag-rescue device or other means of extricating an incapacitated firefighter from a dangerous situation are of particular interest. There remain challenges to provide a functional, simple and accessible device integrated into turnout coats.
HANSEN and KRUSE: We don't have any new designs pending right now for specific drag-rescue devices. However, we are working on solutions for integrated harness systems.
Q: Will future PPE be constructed to withstand higher heat and provide further protection in a fire?
UNDERWOOD: As a manufacturer of fabrics for firefighting PPE, we are always evaluating new fibers and fiber blends that can provide elevated levels of flame protection. This is a given, but there may also be a increasing interest in materials and material systems that help to reduce the heat stress firefighters face on a regular basis, driving lighter weight materials and turnout composites. All departments need to run an honest risk assessment and make gear determinations based on that risk assessment.
NICHOLAS: Possibly. The NFPA 1971 technical committee has considered requiring additional testing (e.g., mannequin test, stored-energy test) of completed garments, which may lead to improvements in design and protection. There may also be technological improvements in materials.
WYMAN: Ultimately, that is the goal of any new design in material and patterning. The question is should we focus on protecting firefighters from greater heat exposures or should we protect them from heat stress? Heart failure is the greatest threat members of the fire service face and some believe the gear plays a role in this. Ultimately, manufacturers should continue to work toward providing the highest level of protection possible and the decision of what level is needed by a department should be made by the departments themselves. Manufacturers know how to make gear, but no one knows the individual circumstances and needs of a department better than the members of that department.