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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CARPENTIER: Of course, we at INNOTEX are always looking for new features to improve firefighter safety. Our new EMK (Enhanced Mobility Knee) is a perfect example on how improving our design through ergonomic studies with firefighters has enabled us to lower the level of effort required when climbing, kneeling or crawling, therefore reducing the probabilities of heat stress incidents occurring. In addition, we are currently working on a new variable collar system (patent pending) that will help reduce the risk of getting burned in the neck area.

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?

CARPENTIER: We do not feel that color is a major factor in the level of protection from any outer shell material. However, the newer outer shells introduced seem to be offered in lighter colors such as tan and yellow. In addition, it may be easier to detect a garment that is contaminated or soiled with lighter colors.

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

CARPENTIER: It is not easy to give this question one simple answer, but this is what the measure of the TPP tries to establish. The TPP value is a measurement of the elapsed time for heat emitted from a radiant and convective heat source to penetrate a composite system resulting in a second-degree burn.

It is known that skin will suffer a second-degree burn if it receives an energy amount equal to 1 calorie per surface area. The NFPA committee has decided that TPP testing should be done at 2 cal/s, the equivalent of a flashover situation. So theoretically, a gear with a TPP of 40 would allow a firefighter 20 seconds to escape a critical condition such as a rollover before sustaining a second-degree burn.

Of course, this result can be influenced greatly by the conditions of the garment, its wetness, age, conditions as well as how it was maintained, etc.

LAKELAND

ADAM R. PARKER
National Sales Manager
Woven Products/Fyrepel/Reflective Apparel Div. Lakeland
Industries Inc.

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

PARKER: In reference to any changes to the NFPA 1971 standard, 2007 edition, for firefighting gear, there have been several changes.

The addition of the DRD, drag rescue device, that is used for a person that is down in a rescue situation. The thermal liner in the shoulder area of the garments must be double layered and the THLs were adjusted in order to maximize breathability and comfort.

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?

PARKER: Based upon our history, khaki and black are our two most requested colors. Color really doesn't matter in reference to the protection the gear will afford the wearer. The protection is based upon fabric and fabric combinations in order to reach the optimal TPP and THL performances.

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

PARKER: Since this is not usually a controlled situation, and the user has many different options regarding outer shell, thermal barrier and moisture barrier combinations, the temperature will vary based upon the many combinations the user has to choose from. NFPA 1971, 2007, offers a good outline on the minimum standards all gear needs to meet based upon the TPP and THL.

PBI

KIMBERLY M. HENRY
Director of Marketing & Sales -- NA Performance Fabrics
PBI Performance Products Inc.

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

HENRY: PBI Matrix outer shells, which were introduced a few years ago, continue to provide unmatched flame and thermal resistance for firefighter turnout gear. Since firefighter safety is our number-one goal, PBI Performance Products developed a new outer shell that addressed the major concerns of the fire service: heat stress, heat and flames from a fire, and durability. Based upon these concerns, we created The PBI Matrix technology. This innovative technology raised the bar on premium outer shell performance and protection. Combining the high strength of filament and spun para-aramid fibers with the high heat and flame resistance of PBI fiber, produced a durable, highly flexible, fast drying and thermally stable premium outer shell. The PBI Matrix technology is the next generation in outer shells that complements new turnout gear designs which promote ease of movement (less stress) and comfort with maximum protection and durability.