MANUFACTURERS' ROUNDTABLE

Firehouse® Magazine invited a cross-section of personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers to join our latest roundtable discussion centering on firefighter safety issues. Topics include safety-related improvements, color choices and protection...


CHIEFTAIN TOM CLEMENTS National Sales Manager Chieftain Safety Mfg. FIREHOUSE: Are there any new additions to PPE, specifically to coats and pants, to improve firefighter safety? CLEMENTS: With the new NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1971, 2007 edition, on turnout...


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CHIEFTAIN

TOM CLEMENTS
National Sales Manager
Chieftain Safety Mfg.

FIREHOUSE: Are there any new additions to PPE, specifically to coats and pants, to improve firefighter safety?

CLEMENTS: With the new NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1971, 2007 edition, on turnout gear, raising the THL (total heat loss) and the TPP (thermal protective performance) will better protect the firefighter in situations involving flashover, backdraft rollover and situations where there is exposure to high temperatures. With the new requirements of the DRD (drag rescue device), the possibility to successfully rescue the downed firefighter has been improved. This is saying that the RIT (rapid intervention team) can remove the downed firefighter faster and much more safely than before. The team can locate the DRD flap, deploy the DRD and then pull the strap to move the downed firefighter to an exit in a safe manner, increasing the safety factor for both or all firefighters involved in the situation.

FIREHOUSE: Are any colors of PPE being requested more than others? Does color matter in regard to the protection the gear will afford the wearer?

CLEMENTS: We see more of the gold or natural colors of PBI, and khaki and black in the Advance fabric. In Nomex, the more frequently requested colors are black and yellow. Does color matter in regard to protection? No. I have conducted tests and drills with various fire departments outside during both day and nighttime. The prominent eye-catching factor is the light coloring of the fabric and/or reflective materials used. You want to be seen both in the dark and in the bright sun. It is imperative that the firefighter be seen in both conditions. We need to keep our fire personnel safe both on the road and at the scene of the fire.

FIREHOUSE: At what temperature and for how long does the PPE provide protection before the wearer could become injured during severe structural firefighting conditions?

CLEMENTS: There are too many variables involved to provide specific examples or results. Some of this is what outer shell is being used, and in conjunction with which moisture and thermal barriers. In addition to this, the type of fire, the heat of the fire, plus location relative to the fire, all must be taken into consideration. This is a very complex answer to a question where the extent of the exposure can vary greatly. As stated, the amount of heat and the duration of exposure are both variables.

DUPONT

RICH YOUNG, Ph.D.
Senior Research Chemist
E.I. du Pont de
Nemours & Co. Inc.

FIREHOUSE: Are there any new additions to PPE, specifically to coats and pants, to improve firefighter safety?

YOUNG: The new edition of NFPA 1971, 2007 edition, now specifies that compliant garments include a drag rescue device, DRD. Many departments find these aid in the extraction of a downed firefighter. Even though some departments would prefer to use other methods, the consensus of the technical committee was that the inclusion of this equipment in turnout gear would save lives.

DuPont has introduced a new concept in thermal liner technology, DuPont Nomex On Demand. Available beginning this month, Nomex On Demand is a smart material designed to react at high temperatures, specifically 250 degrees, for increased thermal insulation. As the internal temperature of the garment increases, the new material will actually become thicker and improve the insulation performance of the garment. Yet, in routine conditions, Nomex On Demand remains thin, breathable and flexible. Lab studies look extremely promising and we are in the process of doing field trials to validate the improvements in protection.

FIREHOUSE: Are any colors of PPE being requested more than others? Does color matter in regard to the protection the gear will afford the wearer?

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