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In this introduction to FIRE’s Emergency Services Show preview, event organisers report on new features for this year
Visitors to this year’s Emergency Services Show can source the very latest kit and discover emerging technologies, whilst networking with partner agencies with whom they could collaborate at future fire and rescue operations. Taking place in Hall 5 at the NEC, Birmingham on September 18-19, the Emergency Services Show is the UK’s largest event for the emergency services. It is free-to-attend and features over 450 exhibiting companies and organisations as well as live demonstrations, simulated training and CPD-accredited seminars.
New features for the 2019 event include the SkyBound Rescuer Drone Seminar taking place in a dedicated Drone Dome and a SkyBound Rescuer Drone Zone, sponsored by SOARIZON® by Thales. Designed to help emergency services and public safety professionals to make the best tactical and strategic use of drone technology, these features are expected to attract attendees from every part of the global emergency services community, including fire, lowland, mountain, cave and coastal SAR; lifeboats and flood rescue units.
Popular returning features include the Extrication Challenge, hosted by West Midlands Fire Service and judged by United Kingdom Rescue Organisation, and the First Aid & Trauma Challenge. Both challenges showcase the use of the latest technology and equipment, while the Extrication Challenge in particular is also a highly interactive and immersive experience for participants and show visitors alike, featuring live-stream action cameras broadcasting to large display screens.
Virtual reality training features heavily this year. Visitors will be able to participate in a multi-agency simulated training exercise on the Simulation Centre stand, giving them a taste of Coventry University’s immersive and dynamic virtual training facility. Leicester Fire and Rescue Service (in conjunction with RiVR) will also be offering virtual reality training and the Fire Service College will be introducing its new virtual reality training solution: FLAIM Trainer®.
CPD-accredited seminar programmes will run in four dedicated seminar theatres this year covering Lessons Learnt, Health and Wellbeing, IT and Emerging Technologies. The recent wildfires on Winter Hill in Lancashire and this year’s Ocado warehouse fire in Hampshire are among the major incidents which will be discussed in the Lessons Learnt Theatre. Visitors will also find out more about the newly-formed Fire Standards Board, and an international initiative to prevent firefighter fatalities, launched by the Institution of Fire Engineers. The Katie Piper Foundation will share its recommendations for improving pre-hospital burn care.
Individual and team resilience, PTSD, men’s mental health and the psychological impacts on control room staff are among the topics to be covered in the Health & Wellbeing Theatre. A number of sessions will focus on equality and diversity. Jennifer Hill, Watch Commander with West Midlands Fire Service, for example, will share the experiences of a primarily female fire service team deployed in civil war-strewn South Sudan. Jules King, Chair, Women in the Fire Service is also due to speak.
Jules King, Chair, Women in the Fire Service, is speaking on diversity and equality in the Health & Wellbeing Theatre
Life-saving apps, digital disruption, cyber security, the IoT (Internet of Things) and using the Cloud to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness are among the diverse topics on the IT Theatre programme. There will also be an update on the Emergency Services Network critical communications system from the Home Office.
Meanwhile, the Emerging Technologies theatre will explore how artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used to improve emergency response. It will focus on the training benefits of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and look at emerging vehicle technologies including electric vehicles and connected cars. London Fire Brigade will explain how it is implementing zero-emission solutions for its fleet, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service will give an overview of a project to develop instantly deployable tracking of first responders at operational incidents.
The College of Paramedics will also host its well-attended CPD training sessions, on both days of the event, which include a session on the identification and management of heatstroke, hypothermia and frostbite.
In the networking hub of the show, the Collaboration Zone, over 80 emergency services, voluntary groups, charities and NGOs share details of the support they offer to the blue light services.
Entry to the event and parking at the NEC are free. To register to attend – and for more information including a list of companies exhibiting products and solutions for the fire and rescue sector – visit: www.emergencyuk.com
Firefighters attend a mixture of call outs, all requiring differing levels of protection. Roger Startin from Bristol Uniforms looks at how manufacturers have risen to the challenge of designing flexible PPE that is suitable for a variety of different scenarios
As a result of better regulation and fire prevention initiatives, the role of a firefighter has evolved in recent years. When talking to firefighters on the ground it is clear that they now spend only a fraction of their time fighting fires. This is backed up by figures from the Fire Brigade Union, which show that more than 45,000 people in the UK were rescued by firefighters from April 2017 to March 2018, but that less than ten per cent of these rescues took place at fire-related emergencies.
These days, call outs are diverse, ranging from road traffic accidents and wild fires, to water and animal rescues, and wearing full structural kit will not always be appropriate or necessary.
Firefighters obviously want their PPE to be lightweight, ergonomic, heat and flame resistant, breathable, and protect against pathogens, hazardous chemicals and the elements, but it also needs to be adaptable for the roles they are undertaking. Choosing the right combination of fabrics and PPE design is key to providing optimal firefighter protection and ensuring PPE is appropriate for the job in hand.
When it comes to fabrics, leading international fibre and fabric manufacturers such as Hainsworth, WL Gore, PBI Performance Products and DuPont, have developed a number of highly specialised materials offering a range of benefits. Used in combination, these fabrics can offer resistance to fire, but also increased manoeuvrability, breathability and moisture control.
DuPont and PBI, for example, provide highly specialised and lightweight fibres for the outer-shell of a garment, which crucially provide outstanding air permeability and breathability, allowing metabolic heat to escape. But when these fabrics come into contact with intense heat, such as from a flash fire, they instantly thicken, creating a barrier helping to prevent burns.
Cambridgeshire firefighters at a road traffic collision
Structural PPE commonly has three layers: an outer shell, moisture barrier and liner system. Here at Bristol, we combine the above type of outer shell with an inner moisture barrier and liner system. Technical rescue PPE tends to have two layers – a flame retardant outer layer and a waterproof membrane. Different fire and rescue services (FRSs) will opt for different fabric combinations depending on their needs and requirements.
Design is also vital. No matter what fabrics you choose, if you opt for poorly designed PPE, you could be putting your firefighters at risk. The key to good design is ensuring it is protective and ergonomic. For example, our ergonomic XFlex range is ‘spiral cut’ meaning that none of its seams are straight, but instead follow the body’s curves and contours. It also features shoulder shaping and under arm gussets, which allow full rotational arm movement, and ergonomic three dimensional articulated elbow and knees. These features allow much more movement and flexibility and ensure there is less risk of catching or entanglement.
FRSs also need to ensure they use the most appropriate PPE for the task in hand. Traditionally, when purchasing PPE, FRSs would opt solely for structural PPE and station wear. However, times have changed following the introduction of specialist urban search and rescue (USAR), wildland and layered PPE ranges to the market.
Structural PPE, such as our XFlex range, is a must when firefighters are called to tackle fires. As mentioned earlier, they have a three-layer construction which protects from heat and flame and also keeps the body dry and cool. This type of PPE is vital for protecting firefighters from heat stress, a significant risk to firefighters in the UK.
USAR, or technical rescue PPE, however, is ideal when firefighters have to work in confined spaces, or attend road traffic accidents and wildfires. They often have a two-layer construction incorporating a flame retardant outer layer with a waterproof membrane to provide flexibility and physical protection against injury when deployed in collapsed buildings or damaged vehicles. Bristol’s RescueFlex consists of a rescue jacket and trouser based on our XFlex design. It is tear and puncture resistant, lightweight to minimise heat stress and provides blood borne pathogen, and knee and elbow protection, as well as a high level of flexibility to afford manoeuvrability. Often we are told by FRSs that this type of PPE is less bulky and cooler, therefore they prefer to wear it when attending non-fire related incidents.
Back in 2014, Bristol also launched a layered PPE range known as LayerFlex. LayerFlex is made up of three garments, which when used in combination provide the required levels of protection for structural and wildland firefighting, as well as technical rescue operations. We worked closely with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) to develop this range. GMFRS were ahead of their time, recognising early on that they needed something that was more flexible and that worked best for its firefighters while responding to other operational duties, like rescues, road traffic collisions, and extinguishing wildfires and small fires.
More and more FRSs are now moving towards a layered approach to PPE, whether that be by purchasing Bristol’s LayerFlex range, or buying a combination of ranges, eg, XFlex structural kit and RescueFlex jacket.
Take Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, for example. They were the first FRS in the country to use Bristol’s XFlex structural PPE and RescueFlex jacket in combination. Station Commander Matt Murdoch, the officer that project managed the implementation of the fire kit, explains why: “We were looking for kit that uses the latest technology in firefighter clothing, which was ergonomically designed to provide our crews with the very best protection. The safety of our firefighters is of the utmost importance to us and a host of options went through rigorous testing before our staff chose the very best fit for them.
“The kit is lighter in weight, breathable and offers more support for the wearer than the fire kit we previously used. Having the option to choose between different tunics helps ensure our crews are able to stay protected and manage their temperature depending on the conditions.
“Cambridgeshire is a rural county meaning our crews will often attend fires in fields and farmland, particularly during the summer months. The advantage of having the lighter tunic is that crews can use it to tackle fires like this without having to carry the additional weight. This is a real advantage when the weather is particularly hot, like the summer of 2018 where we saw soaring temperatures throughout the summer months.”
Since then there have been a number of FRSs opting for a combination of PPE via the Collaborative PPE Framework Contract. Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, for example, recently rolled out new PPE through this contract and opted for Bristol’s XFlex range and RescueFlex jacket. Royal Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Hampshire, West Midlands FRSs have also done the same, giving them the flexibility to mix and match their garments depending on the nature of the call-out.
Suffolk firefighters in Collaborative Framework PPE
The benefits of opting for a layered approach are many, but one thing I would say is that FRSs must be sure to check that all their garments are compatible. It is vital that boots, gloves and helmets operate effectively with trousers and coats, without leaving any areas of the body vulnerable or exposed to risk. At Bristol there are infinite combinations available to make up a full kit, and all of these are compatibility tested to ensure the garments work effectively together and provide full body protection.
Over the last ten years or so, the role of a firefighter has diversified and in response, we as an industry have done the same. For example, we have introduced new fabrics combinations to protect from blood borne pathogens, and created new ranges that can be used in combination with a firefighter’s standard structural kit to offer the very best protection for the job in hand. As a result, there are lots of options now on the market and FRSs can remain confident that whatever type of PPE they go for, their firefighters are getting the very best protection.
Hainsworth Technology has always taken the time to listen to firefighters and emergency service personnel around the world, with feedback acting as the driving force in developing cutting edge fabrics that meet their evolving needs
When developing their refreshed identity earlier this year, Hainsworth Technology sought the views of different stakeholders involved in the PPE procurement process. Among them was Andy Stevenson, a Watch Commander with West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service and Technical PPE adviser.
Andy told Hainsworth Technology: “In spite of countless hours training for dangerous situations, firefighters rightly need to know they can rely on their PPE as their last line of defence.”
Selecting the right kit is paramount in ensuring the safety of firefighters who face hazardous situations on a daily basis. The importance of the role played by everyone in the procurement process was highlighted at a recent event held by West Midlands to officially unveil its new PPE.
West Midlands selected Hainsworth Technology’s TITAN 1260 fabric as part of the prestigious Collaborative Procurement Framework, a project developed to provide access to high quality PPE, whilst saving time and resources by streamlining the procurement process.
Brett Egan, a former Kent firefighter of 30 years and now technical lead for the Collaborative Procurement Framework project, told the invited audience: “Today’s PPE offers better breathability, enhanced design, greater ergonomics and increased heat and flame protection. Making all these things work together is the key.
“The West Midlands journey started over four years ago when the Collaborative Procurement Framework project was launched. They and other fire services involved in the programme wanted to increase their buying power with the end goal of being able to procure the best possible kit.”
The event, which took place at the fire service’s HQ in Birmingham, took visitors through the rigorous process leading to the roll-out at the start of July. Phil Tasker, Sales Director at Bristol Uniforms, described West Midlands’ new PPE as a “new generation of kit” which reflected the change in the way firefighters were wearing their PPE.
Hainsworth Technology has a long-standing relationship with West Midlands Fire Service, stretching back over 40 years to the days of woollen firefighting tunics.
In the late 1980s, Hainsworth invented the Nomex Delta T cloth with DuPont and worked with Bristol Uniforms to create the modern day structural firefighting uniform, which was subsequently worn by West Midland’s firefighters.
In 2011, West Midlands selected TITAN 1220 fabric as part of an eight-year contract with Bristol Uniforms, and now the relationship continues with the roll-out of the new kit, incorporating TITAN 1260 fabric.
The unveiling of the new PPE coincided with a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services which praised West Midlands’s emergency response work as ‘outstanding’.
The report said: ‘This is an excellent result and testament to the dedication of the service’s workforce. The fact that the service has managed to achieve this while making savings of £23 million since 2011 is proof of its efficiency in managing its finances and resources’.
Opening the PPE launch day, Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said: “It is really important we have the best kit for our firefighters.
“We are very proud to have been part of the national procurement strategy. A lot of hard work has gone into getting to this point. We have been through a meticulous process. The overriding responsibility is to be able to provide the best possible service for the West Midlands community.”
Marc Hudson, of West Midlands Fire Service, highlighted the continuing advancement of today’s firefighter PPE. He explained how the new kit is:
Peggy Male, who has been a firefighter with West Midlands for almost 20 years, was involved in the extensive testing under the Collaborative Procurement Framework. Peggy said: “The evaluation process was phenomenal. We tried on so many different pieces of kit and we had absolutely no idea who the suppliers were. There was a real desire to listen to the feedback from firefighters who depend on the kit every day.
“The biggest change I noticed was the dexterity of the new garments. So much more has gone into the kit from a technical perspective. We were really impressed.”
Steve Vincent, West Midlands Fire Service Area Commander, said: “We have found it really exciting to be part of the new framework. We are constantly looking to provide our firefighters with the best PPE to serve and protect the West Midlands community.”
Since the framework launched in 2018, Hainsworth’s cutting-edge TITAN 1260 outer fabric has been chosen by 20 fire and rescue services across the UK. The intelligent outer shell system combines high performance fibres and carefully positions them within the garment to deliver a fabric that maximises comfort, thermal protection and durability.
The new garments have now been rolled out to all firefighters across West Midlands FRS, with positive feedback already coming from those wearing the kit on shift throughout the region.
Richard Gorst, Sales Director for Hainsworth Technology, said: “The event held by West Midlands highlighted the continual advances in technology and innovation that ensure that today’s firefighters have the peace of mind that they are receiving the best possible protection.
“It also showcased the importance of partnership, with everyone involved in the supply chain through to the end user, playing key roles in the development of the kit our fire services are able to buy.”
Photo: West Midlands Fire Service
Ballyclare reports on securing a major new stationwear framework agreement
Ballyclare’s status as a leading fire market supplier has been underlined by the company’s latest success in securing a major new national framework agreement for the UK Fire and Rescue Service. The new four-year deal will see Ballyclare provide a wide range of stationwear and corporate clothing to numerous fire services who have already signed up to Lot 1 of the National Framework Agreement for the Provision of Workwear.
“We’re delighted to have won this new contract as it represents another significant step forward, both for our workwear offering and for our ongoing relationship with the UK’s fire and rescue sector,” explains Ballyclare’s Fire Sales Director, Simon Burnett-Boothroyd. “We’ve worked extremely hard to develop a wide range of garments that will satisfy the standardised needs of the various fire and rescue services who are covered by the framework agreement. By signing up to the framework customers are offered a simple method of procuring exactly what they need from a proven specialist supplier.”
Xenon structural fire suits are worn across Europe.
Image by Piotr Zwarycz
The initial phase of the agreement will see Ballyclare supply some 120,000 items for various fire and rescue services. “The garments covered by the framework will be available to all fire and rescue authorities, as well as the Ministry of Defence and other blue-light emergency services within the United Kingdom,” adds Simon. “They will be supplied from the stocks held at our UK warehouse. Our support team is very experienced in meeting the needs of fire and rescue customers and understand the importance of providing a fast, efficient and reliable turnaround service.”
“We will be supplying stationwear in a total of 82 different styles and colourways, and this will include polo shirts, cargo trousers, office wear, waterproof jackets, windproof jackets and sweatshirts. The range and diversity of garments the sector requested are nothing new to us. We are experienced in providing specific female garments, maternity wear and religious requirements such as hijabs, so Ballyclare was a very natural fit for the national requirements. We’ll also be accommodating a very wide range of garment sizes, including male and unisex workwear in sizes from XS through to 6XL, female stationwear will be available in sizes from 6-26 and there are four trouser length variations, including an unhemmed option.
“This new contract also underlines the benefits which customers gain when they sign up to the framework agreement,” Simon continues. “It offers them the opportunity to source everything they need from a single specialist supplier, while making the procurement procedure as simple and convenient as possible.”
Customers of the framework will also have access to a bespoke online ordering system which is designed to help them manage their stationwear requirements. Accessed via a standard web browser, and with no need for specialist software, the system gives customers easy access to 24/7 ordering and enquiries, plus accurate and real-time stock level reporting and other information which simplifies the task of managing stationwear.
A team of Ballyclare representatives were on hand at a National Framework Open Day held for fire and rescue services from across the UK. The event gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the National Framework Agreement, and Ballyclare’s range of garments and support services for fire and rescue customers. The event was held on August 28 at West Midlands Fire Service Headquarters. Ballyclare will also be appearing on Stand F76 at this year’s Emergency Services Show to turn the spotlight on the wide range of garments it offers to the emergency services by showcasing their new stationwear range and Xenon structural fire and rescue suits.
Ballyclare’s success in winning this new stationwear business is matched by the increasing popularity of its Xenon range of structural, multi-layered, multifunctional firefighter PPE. Xenon represents a real revolution in fire and rescue PPE, and is the product of a brand-new approach to creating multi-layered, multi-functional firefighter clothing.
“The Xenon range is attracting increasing interest from fire service customers not just in the UK, but also across Europe with orders from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. It has also attracted interest from non-European markets such as South America, Oceania and the Middle East.
“Our customers are clearly recognising the benefits of dealing with a proven manufacturer like Ballyclare who is committed to innovation combined with the highest levels of quality, and one who can diversify, manufacturing both PPE garments and stationwear,” Simon added. “We have really raised the bar, and set a new high standard which others now have to try and match.”
MSA, the safety company, reports on how modern innovation is improving firefighter safety
The biggest barrier to firefighter safety is undoubtedly smoke. The need to provide crews with the ability to breath, manoeuvre within a building freely and interact with colleagues has shaped the development of breathing apparatus over time. Even in today’s advanced world, firefighters and crew face new and unexpected challenges. MSA Safety – safety equipment innovator – has published a whitepaper looking at how modern-day Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) must evolve.
The whitepaper is based on views explored at an industry roundtable, attended by fire safety decision-makers across first responder and industry. Discussion highlighted the top five key themes that must form the very foundation of firefighter safety in the future. A recent study by the University of Lancashire found that firefighters under 75 are three times more likely to die of cancer than the general population.
Keeping firefighters safe: we have all seen the images on TV of firemen and women fighting flames. The design, performance, reliability and ease-of-use of modern breathing apparatus directly affects a firefighter’s ability to enter a building, search for, find, rescue and evacuate trapped individuals. The safety industry has a duty of care to constantly look at ways breathing apparatus technology and best practice might be enhanced or improved. At the start of every fire station shift, lives are at stake.
Great design: simplicity and purpose are key. This is a guiding principle that has been in place for many years. An SCBA user may be a fully retained professional firefighter or a part-time volunteer. Whatever apparatus is provided, it must be fit for purpose: simple to put on and easy for the wearer to focus on the job at hand. From including users in the development of SCBA to improving in-team communications, simplicity is the word to remember.
Ergonomics: one size does not fit all. Today’s serving firefighters span people of all genders, shapes and sizes. This means breathing equipment must be designed to allow a good fit for all wearers and all potential uses.
Delivering expectations: highlighting value during procurement was highlighted as an important consideration in SCBA. Focusing on firefighter needs and total cost of ownership will keep both purchasers and firefighters happy and safe.
Decontamination after use: we are all much more aware of health and safety in general today, and the long-term effects of firefighting must be considered. Proper cleaning of equipment and removing carcinogenic deposits will make a positive impact. For MSA Safety, designing in the ability to allow breathing equipment to be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated after use was a key part of the development brief for its latest SCBA solution.
Jason Traynor, General Manager, Global Respiratory Protection and Fire Helmets at MSA Safety, comments: “As a manufacturer of SCBA, it is so important for us to work closely with industry partners when we develop new equipment. Our mission is to send people home safely at the end of each day, and this is paramount when it comes to firefighting. The discussions we had during the roundtable were uniquely insightful, and made very clear the key elements of importance for next generation SCBA. From improved fire scene communications and user centric product design, to future proofed purchases and a continued focus on simplicity, there is a real belief that firefighter safety can be dramatically improved.”
Download the full whitepaper and sign up for MSA’s webinar at: https://gb.msasafety.com/fire-service-panel
Ruth Lee reports on the importance of effective training which simulates realistic scenarios
A timely, thorough and coordinated response doesn’t simply happen by chance. Behind every life saved are countless hours, weeks, months and years of training, learning, and practicing of the skills necessary.
The general public see the end result but are often oblivious to the preparation behind the scenes. At Ruth Lee, we have a very different perspective and are committed to helping you to create training which will prepare your teams for whatever life throws at you
Most search and rescue training involves the use of manikins – not least for H&S compliance reasons. Choosing the right size, weight and type of manikin to use is one of the keys to effective training.
With this in mind, we have taken a look at a few possible scenarios and suggested manikins to help.
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