BY ALAN M. PETRILLO
Personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers are turning out new styles of specialty PPE for nonstructural firefighting tasks that provide the protection necessary for the type of job to be performed without sacrificing safety or comfort. Such specialty PPE includes that made for wildland firefighting, rescue, emergency medical services (EMS), and proximity/hazmat incidents.
Todd Herring, director of marketing for Fire-Dex, says his company makes TECGEN51 Fatigues, which meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, and NFPA 1951, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents. “TECGEN51 Fatigues have a very diverse range of use,” Herring points out. “The PPE uses an exclusive fabric and technology for Fire-Dex, which is a blend of TECGEN fibers to give a high level of comfort and breathability, very high tear strength, a high level of flash protection, and radiant heat protection—all in a single-layer fabric.”
Alysha Gray, product marketing director for fire PPE at Lion, says Lion makes the VersaPro and VersaPro Plus, two models of specialty PPE that meet NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951. “The VersaPro garment is less cumbersome than structural firefighting PPE, made from a single layer that uses the Sigma™ fabric that is soft yet strong and durable,” Gray says. “Sigma fabric is made up of 45 percent Meta-Aramid, 32 percent Lenzing FR®, 17 percent Polymide, and six percent Para-Aramid, giving a combination of flash/thermal protection, durability, comfort, and appearance.”
John Therrien, national sales manager for Lakeland Fire, says Lakeland’s wildland PPE meets NFPA 1977 and 1951 in coat, pant, and coverall models. “They all are made with TenCate Defender M Gold shell fabric, and the styles have been ergonomically designed to provide function and comfort,” Therrien says. “The gear comes with our patented LazerMax trim, a silver Scotchlite reflective piping that we run in the major seams of our garments, around the arm holes and down the back of the sleeves, and down the sides of the legs to improve the visibility of first responders on the roads or firegrounds.”
Doug Daffler, director of sales for Veridian Fire Protective Gear, says Veridian makes single-layer wildland PPE meeting NFPA 1977 with three different material options. “The material options are a seven-ounce TenCate Tecasafe® Plus, a nine-ounce Westex Indura® cotton, and a 7.25-ounce TenCate Advance®,” Daffler points out. Veridian also makes wildland gear meeting both NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951 with two choices for the fabric: 6.5-ounce TenCate Defender M™ and six-ounce TenCate Brigade™ with Nomex®.”
RESCUE AND EMS PPE
Herring notes that Fire-Dex makes two-layer urban search and rescue (USAR) PPE that meets both NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1999, Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical Operations. “The gear has a CROSSTECH® SR moisture barrier and can use either TECGEN51 fabric or traditional Nomex fabric for the outer shell,” Herring says. “It is customizable like structural firefighting gear, so it offers a wide range of flexibility, and in various colors and fabrics.”
Herring says Fire-Dex also makes Para-Dex EMS gear, “which can be customized and built to order. It uses a different moisture barrier system compared with our USAR PPE,” he adds, “yet still meets the NFPA 1999 standard. Para-Dex offers a number of different options and comes in an assortment of fabrics and colors.”
Karen Lehtonen, vice president of innovation and product development, says Lion makes the TR51 rescue coat and pant, a two-layer garment that meets NFPA 1951 and 1999. “The TR51 has a Nomex outer shell that’s tough and durable, and outer shell options include DuPont™ Nomex IIIA rip stop, PBI TriGuard®, and TenCate Millenia™ SR,” Lehtonen says. “The TR51’s CROSSTECH SR liner provides liquid penetration resistance to water, blood, and bodily fluids.”
Lion also makes MedPro PPE that meets NFPA 1999, says Gray. “MedPro uses a Westex DH fire-resistant outer shell with a HydroPel Premier finish for comfortable and durable protection against flash fires,” Gray says. “The CROSSTECH EMS moisture barrier protects against blood, bodily fluids, and water while remaining breathable. MedPro has mobility due to a banded crotch, a biswing back, and underarm bellows.”
Lakeland Fire’s 911 Series extrication suits are manufactured with 10 percent flame-resistant (FR) cotton, according to Therrien. The 911 Series has reinforced stitching to covered snaps, padded elbows, lined sleeves, padded forearms, and hook-and-loop adjustment straps at the wrists.
Daffler says Veridian makes Tech Rescue Utility gear, which meets both NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1977 “and that delivers the flexibility and freedom of movement that rescue and extrication work demands. The rescue gear has roomy design elements coupled with reinforced elbows and padded reinforced knees to create a durable and comfortable set of gear.”
Lehtonen notes that Lion makes the MT94™ Multi-Threat Protection PPE that meets both NFPA 1994, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Fire Responders to Hazardous Materials Emergencies and CBRN Terrorism Incidents, and NFPA 1992, Standard on Liquid Splash Protective Ensembles and Clothing for Hazardous Materials Emergencies. Lehtonen says that MT94 provides limited hot zone protection and uses a Gore CHEMPAK® Ultra Barrier fabric. “This is a nonencapsulated Level A protection suit that is ruggedized but more streamlined and form-fitting than typical Level A suits,” she says.
Lion also makes a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) PPE “with a comfortable breathable fabric that has exceptional stretch for use in warm zone protection,” Lehtonen says. “The PPE is made with Gore CHEMPAK fabric; has a slim design that integrates into existing gear without modification; and has a 48-hour wear life if not damaged, exposed, or contaminated.” She points out that the gear is compliant with NFPA 1994.
Lakeland Fire makes the 500 and 550 series Approach Suits, says Therrien, designed for personnel engaged in maintenance, repair, and operational tasks in areas of low ambient, high radiant heat. “These superior protective approach suits are available in high-temperature aluminized fiberglass with an additional moisture/steam barrier lining protecting in areas where exposure to hot liquids, steam, or hot vapor is a possibility,” he says. “The suits are available in coverall or coat and pant styles. The 500 series comes with a hood with gold reflective face shield, coat, pant, gloves, and boots. The 505 series Coverall comes in a coverall style with the same hood, gloves, and boots as the 500.”
Veridian makes two models of proximity gear, Daffler says, the Vector and Vector Lite. “Vector provides protection in the most extreme radiant heat conditions while maintaining superior form, fit, and function,” Daffler notes. “Vector Lite provides the same heat protection and has a FlexWing Expanded Back to assure a full range of motion to respond quickly. High back trousers provide full protection, allowing the option of choosing a shorter length coat for less bulk.” Both models meet NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
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.