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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With the introduction of technical rescue (USAR) PPE, again PBI Performance Products has developed and introduced PBI Triguard, a lightweight, 5.3-ounce, comfortable, but durable and flash fire resistant (four-second exposure) fabric for this highly demanding market.
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?
HENRY: Gold seems to be the standard for turnout gear outer shells. Before the introduction of PBI Gold outer shell in the late '80s, the standard outer shell color was yellow. But since PBI Gold represented premium protection and performance in the fire service market, new outer shells introduced in the '90s were "gold-like" in color. The natural or gold color of PBI outer shells continues to represent the largest portion of sales in the market. Another color which seems to be making a comeback in the market is black. This color represents tradition in the fire service and in wear tests has proven to be as durable and protective as gold without adding stress to the wearer due to heat. To date, I have not seen any studies in which the core temperature of the wearer increased due to the color of the outer shell used in a set of turnout gear.
FIREHOUSE: At what temperature and for how long does the PPE provide protection before the wearer could become injured during severe structural firefighting conditions?
HENRY: The NFPA 1971 standard, 2007 edition, requires a minimum thermal protective performance (TPP) average of 35 cal/cm2-sec. The TPP test measures the thermal insulation of protective ensembles used for structural firefighting. This minimum averaged value represents the amount of time -- 17.5 seconds -- in which a second-degree burn would occur when exposed to two calories of heat and flame (approximately 1,800-2,000 degrees Fahrenheit/flashover-type conditions) in a protective garment element composite consisting of an outer shell, moisture barrier and thermal barrier. All NFPA 1971 third-party-certified garments meet this minimum requirement. As the world's only producer of PBI fiber, PBI Performance Products develops outer shell technologies that provide break-open protection under extreme firefighting conditions. Since the degradation temperature of PBI outer shells are approximately 1,300F, they provide break-open protection of the moisture and thermal barriers, which begin to degrade at lower temperatures comparable to the levels of aramids during severe firefighting conditions.
Senior Vice President
Safety Components International Inc.
FIREHOUSE: Are there any new additions to PPE, specifically to coats and pants, to improve firefighter safety?
UNDERWOOD: As a specialty fabric producer, we have continual development initiatives that seek to improve firefighter safety. This is an expensive process, and our ideas don't always come to fruition, but we dedicate over $200,000 annually to fire-rescue research and development. Three new products that we showcased at the recent FDIC were Armor 7.0 outer shell fabric, ShadowBox thermal liners and an On-Demand batting system from DuPont.
Armor 7.0 combines a 50% content of military-grade ballistic Kevlar with a spun-yarn blend of Nomex and Kevlar in a lightweight fabric. By using 50% military-grade ballistic Kevlar, we are delivering fabric tensile and tear strength never before seen in outer shells. This all translates into better protection from rips and tears and improved fabric integrity and strength after exposure to flame. We also developed Armor with our ComfortBlend weave to provide better freedom of movement for lower work stress.
Our ShadowBox thermal liners optimize filament Nomex to deliver enhanced lubricity and moisture management for firefighters. We believe thermal liners are generally an unappreciated part of the firefighter ensemble, but they actually play as great a role in firefighter safety as the outer shell. Heat stress affects firefighters daily so these improvements to freedom of movement and moisture management are a critical enhancement for firefighter safety. We think ShadowBox is an excellent addition to our Glide and Chambray thermal liner systems.