More Useful Equipment Displayed At FRI In Dallas

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Tool Grid from GearGrid allows firefighters to see what’s on the other side.
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An integrated seat safety harness allows EMTs and paramedics to move about while still being restrained in case of a collision. (Fire Apparatus Photo)
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The Hose Mule does the heavy lifting for side or rear hosebed loading.
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HOPS air bags are designed to protect EMTs and Paramedics in case of rollover or side impact collisions.

Last month, we discussed the growing emergence of multi-purpose vehicles, as evidenced by apparatus on display at the Fire-Rescue International trade show in Dallas. This month, other useful equipment exhibited at the show is highlighted.

GearGrid, known for its fire station storage racks for turnout gear and SCBA bottles, introduced a Swingout Tool Grid. The term “grid” comes from its wire mesh applications. The Swingout Tool Grid provides another choice for mounting tools while making maximum use of available storage space.

Unlike popular solid aluminum swing-out or slide-out panels, the wire mesh allows fire departments to mount their tools so they are readily visible. Adjustability for changing equipment and tool needs is quick and easy. There is no need to open or move panels to see what is on the other side, facilitating storage and retrieval, as well as checking the inventory of tools and equipment following an incident. In addition, compartment ventilation is improved. The powder-coated Swingout Tool Grid is made of heavy-duty steel tubing and quarter inch wire.   
Loading fire hose is never glamorous, and it’s one of those activities that must be done when everyone is tired, dirty and wanting to get back to the station or home. Williams Fire & Hazard Control introduced The Hose Mule, a product to help load hose. It mounts to either the side or the rear of the hose bed and uses two rollers (think of the old wringer washing machines) powered by either a 12-volt or a hydraulic motor.

With the side-mount unit, the apparatus can be driven along the side of the deployed hose, and using the rear-mount, the apparatus can be driven straddling the deployed hose. The Hose Mule does the heavy lifting, and as the hose passes through the rollers, air and water are displaced. Fire departments can choose between a 5-inch model and a 7.25-inch model. The manufacturer says it will load 100 feet of 5-inch hose in a minute. All the firefighters must do is get the hose started into the machine and guide its placement into the hosebed. 
It was especially encouraging to see advances in occupant protection for ambulances on display. For years, the industry has been trying to get its arms around a better way to protect EMS providers working in the back of an ambulance. Horton  Emergency Vehicles exhibited its Horton Occupant Protection System (HOPS), which is an airbag system deployed during a side impact or rollover accident. Two airbags are used – one a head curtain “pillow type,” and the other a tubular form.

The airbags were developed through years of research and testing with the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPR), a division of IMMI in Indiana.  This is the same company that has developed airbags for fire apparatus. To underscore Horton’s commitment to safety, HOPS is now standard equipment on all the company’s emergency vehicles.

Six-Poinit HMR Harness

Horton didn’t stop with adding HOPS. The company has also developed new “progressive resistance headrests” for squad benches and CPR seating positions.  This is a laminated surface that is not only cushioned, but also dissipates energy to eliminate the “bottoming-out” effect during a collision. It is similar to the methodology used in high impact sports and racing helmets.  
Speaking of ambulance occupant protection, it was interesting to note that Wise Emergency Medical Seating and BAE systems had joined together to integrate their High Mobility Restraint (HMR) into the seat. The six-point HMR harness allows the service provider in the back of the ambulance to move about, including standing up, while attending to a patient and still secured to the restraint. When the EMS provider is seated, it acts like a regular shoulder/seatbelt strap.   When the provider is moving, the HMR will lock up if it senses a significant inertia change.

Nomex On Demand

It will be quite interesting to see how the new NFPA standard for ambulances, currently being developed, will address occupant restraint.

On the personal protective equipment (PPE) side of products, DuPont was displaying its new Nomex on Demand. Under the heading of “smart” technology, Nomex on Demand is a non-woven thermal barrier that expands when exposed to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The advantage of this technology is that it allows for a thin thermal barrier for improved breathability and flexibility. When there is a real need for added thermal protection, the thermal barrier expands, providing up to 20 percent more thermal protection than when in the “inactivated” mode.  Once activated, it will not return to the inactivated mode.

DuPont advertises this technology as way to have a more comfortable set of turnout gear with added thermal protection upon demand. A few years ago, DuPont tried a similar approach to outer shells, but the product was not a success in the market. This “smart” technology seems to make more sense in the thermal liner.

TenCate Southern Mills displayed its newest product, Tecasafe plus high visibility, a flame resistant fabric designed for wildland firefighting. The product allows for inherent FR material and visibility in one garment. It meets all the applicable  National Fire Protection Association, American National Standards Institute and Canadian General Standards Board requirements. Southern Mills states that the garment is extremely soft, durable and has superior moisture management. It is touted as more comfortable than Nomex and with better evaporative cooling than flame-retardant treated (FRT) cotton.

With the recent advances in fabrics for the sporting goods market, it appears the textile industry will have a lot to offer the fire service in coming years. The new products of Southern Mills and DuPont are leading indicators.

Next year, FRI will be Aug. 24-28 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Mark your calendars.

Editor’s Note: Robert Tutterow, who has 30 years in the fire service, is the Charlotte (N.C.) Fire Department health and safety officer. He is a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Department Apparatus Committee and is on two other NFPA committees, the Structural and Proximity Firefighting Protective Ensemble Technical Committee and the Technical Correlating Committee for Fire and Emergency Services PPE.   

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