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PPE – The Way Ahead

Leading textile manufacturer, Hainsworth, is finding that its distinguished British heritage is increasingly a hit at home and abroad, thanks to the company’s approach to innovation, quality and global partnerships, which ensures continuing demand.

Hainsworth is always proud to receive visitors to its historic mill in Yorkshire, England. While senior fire officers from the UK are frequent visitors, during the course of a typical year the company will also welcome delegations from China, Australia, the United States and the Middle East. Hainsworth has been working with firefighters since Britain’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act 1865, but it is since the King’s Cross underground fire disaster in London in 1987 that Hainsworth has come to the fore in the development of PPE for firefighters.

Everyone who works at Hainsworth is passionate about producing the highest quality fabrics and cloths for use in a number of different sectors and industries. Companies such as Hainsworth are demonstrating that Britain still has a strong manufacturing capability. Working closely with the end user is integral to the development of every product innovation being considered by the team at Hainsworth. While this something that is relatively easy to do in the UK, dedicated time is also set aside to get alongside fire services in other parts of the world.

Last year, while attending AFAC in Melbourne, both Simon Burnett-Boothroyd, Hainsworth’s Sales and Innovation Executive, and Managing Director Tom Hainsworth, spent time with both wildland and structural firefighters, understanding the very different challenges each faces. When Simon returns to Australia again at the end of March, he plans to catch up with wildland firefighters who have continued to face extreme conditions tackling some of the worst bushfires seen in the country.

All of the information Hainsworth gleans from spending time on the front line is fed into its dedicated textile innovation centre, which includes a UKAS-accredited testing laboratory. When combined with its fully integrated, vertical textile mill – with its own spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing, printing and fabric conversion machinery – it gives Hainsworth a genuine point of difference in the marketplace. Because the company has its own laboratory, it is able to rigorously test all products for protection, durability, comfort, performance and all the other requirements of the modern firefighter.

Heat stress management is now rightly at the top of the firefighting agenda around the world and continuing to develop innovative fabrics that assist in this process remains a key priority for Hainsworth. Growing awareness of the problem – considered to be the biggest threat to the safety of firefighters – can be seen in the introduction of various standards in recent years.

These include the incorporation of water vapour resistance testing into EN469:2005, the introduction of a physiological Annex F into the latest revision of EN469 and the development of the sweating articulated manikin test method ISO 15831:2004. Total heat loss requirements were introduced into NFPA 1971 in 2000 with the level of stringency being stepped up five years ago from 130W/m2 to 205W/m2.

Those responsible for the procurement of PPE are looking for a holistic approach from companies such as Hainsworth, which designs its fabrics with a complete understanding of how they interact with the various layers in the system. Serious consideration is given to each layer to ensure that it is providing the highest levels of performance. Three technologies – Titan, Eco-Dry and Advantage – have been developed to offer maximum protection from burn injury, designed to minimise heat stress and provide active moisture management, while also locking in a quality that gives the greatest possible durability.

Hainsworth understands that fully engaging with the end users and becoming partners in the development of the best possible turnout gear is the only way to achieve the world-class standards demanded of manufacturers tasked with the job of ensuring that firefighters return home safely to their families.


For more information, go to www.protectsyou.co.uk

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