PPE Manufacturers Continue Emphasis on Protection, Comfort

Honeywell's lightweight 14-inch hybrid boot
Honeywell exhibited its lightweight 14-inch hybrid boot at FDIC. The boot incorporates an athletic fit and weighs less than 5 pounds.
Lion's personal rescue system
Lion exhibited its personal rescue system that integrates a Class II harness into bunker pants at FDIC.
V-Force turnout gear
A new color of V-Force turnout gear was introduced by Lion at FDIC.

Manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) are expanding their offerings and introducing new products designed to protect firefighters yet still be comfortable, be more ergonomically fitted, and incorporate more means to escape deteriorating conditions.

To that end, at the FDIC in Indianapolis, Honeywell Safety Products introduced two new footwear products for structural firefighting–the Pro Warrington Model 5007 and Model 4200 leather boots.

Tony Wyman, vice president of marketing, describes the Model 5007 as a 14-inch-high bunker boot with a Goodyear welt and premium full-grain military AB leather that has additional features of stronger side handles, a full back (instead of a cutout back top), and added levels of comfort through athletic design construction.

The Model 4200 is a lightweight 14-inch hybrid boot that weighs less than five pounds, Wyman notes, and incorporates athletic construction for fit, performance, and durability as well as Vibram and Nomex for protection.

Honeywell also introduced the Ben and Lite Force Low-rider helmet models at FDIC–Morning Pride helmets with six-point suspension systems that can be lowered up to 1 ½ inches for a more stable fit and less fatigue on the firefighter.

Another Honeywell debut was the Patriot Harness, a Class 2 ladder-escape belt incorporated into Morning Pride bunker pants. Greg Neff, northeast regional manager, states that the Patriot Harness doubles as a ladder or truck belt, as well as a personal escape system.

Neff says the design of the Patriot, which has adjustable leg loops, allows a “D” ring affixed to the side of the belt to slide to the front for use if needed in a bailout situation.

Honeywell also exhibited its full line of Morning Pride bunker gear and helmets, its Ranger and Servus boot products, and its line of American Firewear protective equipment.

Meanwhile, Haix North America Inc. introduced its new leather boot for structural firefighting–the Fire Hero Xtreme. The waterproof leather boot is 11 inches high, incorporates a Carbon HX lightweight protective toe cap, and has a steel puncture protective sole.

The new boot expands on the Haix line of leather firefighting boots, which includes the Fire Hunter Xtreme, the Fire Flash Xtreme, the Special Fighter Xtreme, and the Fire Hunter US.

Lion exhibited its line of Janesville firefighting gear at FDIC, all of which carries two layers of Crosstech black moisture barriers.

Hayley Fudge, director of marketing, says Lion introduced a new color for its V-Force line of advanced fire gear and also added options in various reflective trim.

Lion also displayed its personal rescue system that integrates a Class II harness into its bunker pants, its line of Paul Conway helmets, and its leather firefighting boots–Marshall and Commander. The Marshall is a 14-inch pull-on design that uses a Crosstech black fabric membrane, a Vibram Fire & Ice sole, and a Lock-fit ankle support system. The Commander is a 12-inch zip-lace boot using the same ankle support system and many of the same construction components.

Globe, which showed its line of Gxtreme firefighting gear at FDIC, also sponsored a firefighting obstacle course on the exhibit hall floor where attendees, dressed in full bunker gear and helmets, climbed and descended a 10-foot A-frame ladder, dragged a weighted dummy 20 feet, and low-crawled an obstacle course. Participants finished by sledgehammering a lever, causing a bell to ring. The best participant times were under 20 seconds.

Rob Freese, senior vice president of marketing, says Globe now offers seven different baseline firefighting gear chassis, which can be mixed and matched to meet firefighter needs.

Globe also displayed its line of helmets, as well as its two structural firefighting boots–its top-of-the-line Supreme and the value-oriented Shadow.

“The boots have an athletic style and design, provide full arch support in a formed foot bed, have a composite toe cap instead of steel, and are composed of layered ballistic material to prevent punctures,” Freese says.

Both models are leather with a synthetic Vibram rubber sole.

Fire-Dex displayed its line of firefighting gear, including its Custom FX and Custom Assault gear that feature ergonomic designs available in an assortment of fabric combinations and closures.

Fire-Dex also exhibited its Opportunity, Chieftain, Extrication, Chieftain Wildland, and USAR gear lines.

Black Diamond featured two boot styles at FDIC–leather and rubber firefighting boots. The leather model is 14 inches high, made of FireTuff flame retardant and waterproof material and lined with Kevlar for cut protection. It carries an OrthoLite foot bed and has a steel toe and a three-point heel lock system.

Black Diamond’s rubber bunker boot is 16 inches high and has an OrthoLite sock liner and a Kevlar/Nomex coating.

Sterling Rope introduced its new SafeTech rope at FDIC, an 8-mm escape rope that has a Technora sheath and nylon core construction.

Carolyn Brodsky, Sterling’s president, says SafeTech is certified to NFPA 1983, 2006 edition for escape rope, and has a breaking strength of 4,384 pounds and a sheath resistant to temperatures up to 9320F.

“The Technora sheath offers the best heat resistance for repeated exposures to high temperatures,” Brodsky says, “while the nylon core provides a small amount of elongation when bailout is needed. It’s designed to yield a firm hand to stay round over edges and work smoothly through gear.”

She notes that round construction is easy to handle and to locate with gloved hands, and that Technora offers a high level of abrasion and cut resistance compared to other high-tenacity fibers.

Besides displaying an assortment of other rescue ropes and descent control devices, Sterling also debuted its FastBack Lumbar Bag, a heat-resistant bag that holds 50 feet of escape rope. Brodsky points out the FastBack has a zipper closure to make it easy to stuff the bag with rope, a descent device, an anchor hook, and a carabiner.

Petzl debuted a newly designed hook for its EXO personal escape system. The design of the multipurpose anchor hook, says Nathan Williams, division coordinator, more easily allows the user to pass the hook end of the rope around a solid, stationary anchor and secure the connection by threading a loop of rope through the hitching slot and wrapping the hook.

Petzl also added black anodizing to its locking D carabiner as part of the EXO system.

Finally, RIT Rescue & Escape Systems exhibited various rescue equipment, including the Fire-AL auto locking descent control device, the Firefighter Rescue Escape Device, a Class II Pre-rigged Egress Safety System (PRESS), a PRESS fire belt, and a PRESS pocket pack system.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Arizona, who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

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