The fire industry has become increasingly aware in recent years of the potential risks to firefighters from exposure to fireground particulates. Studies have shown that some of the most vulnerable areas are around the neck and ears, despite being covered by traditional fire hoods.
These studies led to the introduction of certified protection for garments and hoods in the 2018 edition of the NFPA Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and proximity Fire Fighting. The introduction of the standard recognised that wearing a particulate hood delivers the critical additional protection needed on the fireground.
The NFPA Standard requires that hoods block at least 90% or more of the particulates between 0.1 microns and 1 micron.
The GORE Particulate Hood GEN 2 exceeds the Standard’s particulate blocking requirements with a protective barrier that blocks more than 99.9% of potentially harmful particulates. It delivers reliable protection throughout the entire hood – even blocking smoke effectively at critical seams. The design of the hood optimises its construction to reduce interference with sounds and signals on the fireground.
Protection throughout all of the hood areas is critical. One way of evaluating the hood’s ability to do this when worn as part of an ensemble is the use of a Fluorescent Aerosol Screening Test (FAST). The test is not part of the NFPA Standard’s requirement, but it is important to ensure that wearing the hood as part of an ensemble does not compromise particulate-blocking performance.
GORE contracted an independent laboratory to perform the FAST test to verify the GORE Particulate Hood’s performance compared to a traditional, non-particulate hood as part of a full ensemble, including gear, mask and SCBA.
The test showed that when a GORE Particulate Hood was worn, no visible evidence of particulates on the subject’s skin could be found.
There is much said about the air permeability of hoods, but this is a two-way street. Products with higher air permeability potentially reduce protection against fireground contaminants because they can allow more air and particles to pass through the barrier. Products that combine high breathability and higher particle-blocking efficiency deliver a better balance of comfort and protection.
Breathability is not the same as air permeability. Hoods can maintain good moisture vapour breathability without being air permeable. Total heat loss (THL) contains a moisture vapour breathability component. The NFPA 1971 Standard requires a minimum THL value that all particulate hoods must achieve for certification.
The 2018 NFPA 1971 Standard also addresses the need to keep gear clean, defining preconditioning as 20 launderings and two convective heat cycles. However, most firefighters are likely to wash their hood more than 20 times, so the durability of the hood is important if it is to protect effectively throughout its operational use.
GORE washed GORE Particulate Hoods 100 times at a verified ISP and repeated both the Particulate Blocking Test and the FAST test to evaluate its performance. The results show that specimens from these laundered hoods maintained 99.9% particulate-blocking efficiency – the same as the results for the specimens tested from new hoods after NFPA preconditioning.
The GORE Particulate Hood GEN 2 combines effective particulate protection with high levels of comfort for a more natural feel. Its level of breathability helps reduce heat stress, enabling firefighters to wear the hood for longer on the fireground.
For more information, go to www.goretexprofessional.com