Firefighting hoods have been around for years, protecting firefighters from heat in a fire situation, but recent innovations in hood design and fabrics have added protection from toxic carcinogenic particulates. Here are the types and styles of particulate-blocking firefighting hoods being made today.
Jim Sonntag, owner of PGI Inc., says PGI makes the Cobra BarriAire™ Gold Hood with an external shell of PGI Gold FR proprietary fabric that also has antistatic properties, a durable water-repellent finish, and a lightweight inner layer of DuPont™ Nomex® Nano Flex fabric that inhibits penetration of harmful contaminants and carcinogenic particulates between 0.1 and 1.0 microns. “The fabric averages 95 percent to 98 percent particulate filtration efficiency that actually improves with repeated launderings,” Sonntag notes.
Sonntag adds, “Unlike polytetrafluoroethylene particulate barrier hoods, which have virtually no air permeability and lock in air, the BarriAire Gold Hood has excellent breathability because of the PGI Gold FR fabric, which helps reduce the potential for heat stress by pulling moisture away from the skin to the outer shell where it can evaporate and keep the firefighter drier. And because of the durable water-repellent finish, a BarriAire hood dries in about 20 to 30 minutes after laundering, instead of one to one and a half hours.”
1 A firefighter dons a PGI Cobra BarriAire™ Gold Hood that inhibits penetration of harmful contaminants and particulates. (Photo courtesy of PGI Inc.)
HONEYWELL FIRST RESPONDER PRODUCTS
Deana Stankowski, senior product marketing manager for Honeywell First Responder Products, notes that Honeywell makes the MaskMate™ Hood with STEDAIR® PREVENT, which reduces a firefighter’s exposure to carcinogenic particulates. “MaskMate reduces particulates from coming in around the neck at the sides and in the back, and the PREVENT inner layer is fully lined including through the binding and the elastic that goes around to seal at the mask,” Stankowski points out.
She adds that STEDAIR PREVENT has a 99.99 percent blocking efficiency after 100 wash/dry cycles and is highly air-permeable. “There’s no seaming across the top of the head for a comfort fit, and we offer the hood with a knit outer layer in Nomex, Nomex/Lenzing, and PBI/Lenzing. Total length from the top of the head to the bottom of the bib is 21 inches.”
2 Honeywell First Responder Products makes the MaskMate™ Hood with STEDAIR PREVENT, which reduces a firefighter’s exposure to carcinogenic particulates. (Photo courtesy of Honeywell First Responder Products.)
Lion makes the Red Zone particulate-blocking hood, says Alysha Gray, product manager director for fire PPE. “It’s a kernel viscose blend one-size-fits-all hood that’s paired with STEDAIR PREVENT, which meets the optional standard for particulate blocking in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting,” Gray says. “The PREVENT provides coverage throughout the whole hood area except for the bib, which gets covered by the coat. The overall feel of the hood is very soft as well as being very quiet with no extra noise of the hood rustling over the ears.”
3 Lion makes the Red Zone particulate-blocking hood with a viscose blend outer and inner shell that’s paired with STEDAIR PREVENT. (Photo courtesy of Lion.)
Todd Herring, director of marketing for Fire-Dex, says his company makes the H41 Interceptor hood with two different types of particulate-blocking technology. “One is the H41 using Nomex Nano Flex, a material with very small fiber sizes that have a high level of particulate blocking,” Herring says. “Nomex Nano Flex also excels in air permeability, and we put it between PBI/Lenzing knit inner and outer layers.”
The other particulate-blocking H41 version Fire-Dex makes is with STEDAIR PREVENT between a Nomex/Lenzing inner and outer knit fabric, Herring points out. “PREVENT provides 99.9 percent particulate filtration, is durable, and after well over 100 washes and dry cycles it maintains its particulate protection,” he says. “Something that is unique to the H41 is that no matter which particulate-blocking material we use, it is used in the hood’s entirety, even around the face opening, so the whole hood has a complete 100 percent area of particulate-blocking protection.”
4 The Fire-Dex H41 Interceptor hood is available in two types of particulate-blocking material: Nomex® Nano Flex and STEDAIR PREVENT. (Photo courtesy of Fire-Dex.)
VERIDIAN FIRE PROTECTIVE GEAR
Veridian Fire Protective Gear makes the Viper Max particulate-blocking hood, according to Doug Dafler, director of sales. “We make the Viper Max in two versions,” Dafler says, “one with STEDAIR PREVENT and the other with Nomex Nano Flex. The NFPA 1971 standard identifies the head and neck area where the particulate-blocking coverage should be, and that’s where we cover, not the entire hood. We also use a pretty long bib of two-layer material because that’s an area that is covered by the turnout coat.”
5 Veridian Fire Protective Gear offers two versions of its Viper Max particulate-blocking hood: one with STEDAIR PREVENT (shown) and the other using Nomex Nano Flex. (Photo courtesy of Veridian Fire Protective Gear.)
INNOTEX uses STEDAIR PREVENT particulate-blocking material in its hood, says Claude Barbeau, general manager. “The PREVENT fabric operates like a filter, but it is air-permeable, which contributes to a higher thermal heat loss (THL) while adding a very good thermal protective performance (TPP),” Barbeau says. INNOTEX makes the hood in two types of outer shell material: Nomex and PBI, with an inner liner of viscose for a softer, more slippery surface. The hood is available in two sizes: medium/large and large/extra-large plus.
6 INNOTEX’s particulate-blocking fire hood uses STEDAIR PREVENT material (shown) and also Nomex Nano Flex to inhibit particulates and offers two outer shells: Nomex and PBI. (Photo courtesy of INNOTEX.)
John Therrien, national sales manager at Lakeland Fire, says Lakeland exhibited a prototype particulate-blocking hood at FDIC International 2019 and is developing it as a new product based on feedback it received from firefighters. “We are working with Tex Tech Industries in Portland, Maine, which is developing a carbon fiber that has great heat-blocking characteristics, is very breathable, and has high THL as well,” Therrien says. “We plan on laminating STEDAIR PREVENT in with the carbon fiber material to make it a single-layer hood.”
W. L. GORE & ASSOCIATES
W. L. Gore & Associates offers the GORE® Particulate Hood that is compliant with NFPA 1971 (2018 ed.). Manufactured and distributed by Majestic Fire Apparel, the GORE® Particulate Hood blocks 99.9 percent of potentially harmful particles between 0.1 and 1.0 microns in size, and it maintains that level of protection after 100 washing cycles. According to Lon Edelman, strategic marketing manager, the hood is available in two outer knit options: Ultra C6.2 in black and Nomex® blend in white.
Edelman notes, “We wanted the best combination of breathability and protection in the hood. Therefore, we tested our hood beyond what the standard requires, including system-level FAST testing on new hoods and on hoods that had been washed 100 times. We even tested for smoke penetration at its seams.” Edelman points out that Gore’s hood uses its particulate-blocking layer throughout the entire hood, and the hood can be inverted to show an inspection opening to check the protective barrier.
7 The GORE® Particulate Hood uses a particulate-blocking layer throughout the entire hood. The version shown uses an Ultra C6.2 outer shell. (Photo courtesy of W. L. Gore & Associates.)
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.