The role of a firefighter is constantly evolving. Today across the globe, firefighters are spending much less time actually fighting fires. Instead, in many countries the vast majority of call-outs are for a wide variety of other incidents including traffic accidents, medical emergencies, flooding, chemical spills, public unrest, collapsed buildings and water rescue.
Designs to suit the role
Just as Fire and Rescue Services are having to adapt to respond to an ever-increasing variety of emergency situations, designers and manufacturers of firefighter PPE are also faced with the challenge of adapting PPE to suit these new roles.
Bristol Uniforms is a global leader in the design and manufacture of firefighting PPE. Its in-house design team is constantly striving to create new PPE solutions that successfully offer protection against fire and other likely hazards, whilst enabling the wearer to carry out the job without hindrance and in comfort. Whether performing a rescue in a flood, at the roadside, at an intense fire or in extremely cold conditions, firefighters need to maintain a comfortable body temperature and stay dry. They are also likely to need to crawl, run, and climb to carry out the job in hand.
Bristol works closely with researchers, fabric and fibre manufactures, and firefighters on the ground, to ensure that its PPE is highly effective, comfortable, and suitable for the many scenarios a firefighter is likely to face.
Search and Rescue operations often take place once the immediate danger of flame is removed, with USAR or technical rescue teams entering enclosed and confined spaces, where high temperatures and often toxic smoke are hazards. Bristol has developed a range of clothing specifically for these types of operations. RescueFlex is tear and puncture resistant and provides protection against blood-borne pathogens. It offers physical protection at high risk points such as the knees and elbows, a high level of flexibility to afford manoeuvrability in confined spaces, and is lightweight to minimize heat stress. The coat and trouser can be zipped together to maintain protection when manoeuvring and crawling.
Bristol’s brand new Gore® Varde jacket and trouser combination is now on offer as part of the RescueFlex range. It offers significantly more comfort and flexibility for firefighters faced with technical rescue operations. Using the very latest fabrics from WL Gore, the new Gore® Varde garments are particularly lightweight and breathable, whilst providing a high level of protection against wind, water and flame. Crucially, this allows firefighters to work in confined spaces or in adverse conditions for longer and in more comfort.
The durable waterproof and windproof qualities of the fabric, including low water pick-up and quick re-dry properties, ensure protection from the elements on the outside. At the same time, sweat is able to pass through the fabric from the inside, keeping the wearer dry and reducing the risk of heat stress.
The Gore® Varde fabric is also self-extinguishing and flame retardant, protecting firefighters from the possible hazard of unexpected fire during a rescue operation, and enabling crucial escape time.
These protective properties are inherent in just one light-weight layer, with a soft Aramid viscus inner-layer added for extra comfort. Available in high-vis yellow or orange, the Gore® Varde garments also enable firefighters to work in hazardous environments without the need for any additional high-vis vests.
Roger Startin, Joint Managing Director of Bristol Uniforms, comments:
“Our new Gore® Varde garments feature the very latest in fabric technology and provide a big step forward in terms of comfort for firefighters involved in technical rescue operations. The new design offers an even lighter-weight and more breathable alternative to the garments in our original RescueFlex range, whilst offering the same high quality protection.”
For more information, go to www.bristoluniforms.com