Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

Infographic: 7 steps to clean firefighting turnout gear

We once saw dirty firefighting coats and pants as badges of honor. Now the fire service is beginning to recognize that soiled or contaminated protective garments can expose firefighters to toxins and carcinogens, spread communicable disease, absorb radiant heat, conduct electricity and can be flammable. In short, clean PPE can help you live longer. NFPA 1851 says to evaluate gear after each use to determine the appropriate cleaning level. This includes instructions for routine cleanings at the scene and advanced cleaning at least once a year. To read the seven steps to clean firefighting turnout gear infographic, fill out the form below: Fill out my online form. Fill out my Wufoo...
[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

[Video] How to Clean and Store Your PPE

The fire service has become extremely health conscious ‒ and rightly so. PPE is a critical line of defense against the dangerous environment in which firefighters perform their duties. Proper cleaning and storage of protective clothing are essential to improving firefighter health and safety. This video will provide important guidelines on: The cleaning requirements set forth in NFPA 1851 The proper way to machine wash turnout gear Tips on drying turnout gear How and where to store your...
Easy-to-Understand NFPA 1971 Garment Performance Testing Coming Your Way

Easy-to-Understand NFPA 1971 Garment Performance Testing Coming Your Way

By Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager The 2018 Edition of NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, is anticipated to be published in the third quarter of 2017, barring any public objections to the standard. NFPA standards have always included an annex, which is intended to provide explanations, clarifications, and even non-mandatory suggestions. However, the 2018 revision of the standard has gone a step beyond and introduced Annex B, which is intended as a guide to better understand performance requirements. This annex is written in easy-to-understand laymen’s terms and provides not only the test method and section in which the test is located, but also describes how the test is conducted, as well as explaining exactly what is being tested and the reason behind the test (i.e. why is it tested). Additionally, every test includes an actual photograph or drawing illustrating how the test is run. Below is an example of Annex B (sans the photographs in the actual annex) to demonstrate the layout of the annex, showing just a small sampling of the required testing performed on garments. NFPA is a standards writing organization that uses an open, consensus-based process for the development and revision of all standards. An open consensus-based process means that individuals as well as organizations have provided input and feedback on the 2018 Edition of NFPA...
4 Garment Changes with NFPA 1971, 2018 Edition

4 Garment Changes with NFPA 1971, 2018 Edition

By Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager NFPA standards are revised every five years as a matter of course. There have been times when the process can take a little longer, resulting in a standard that is published in six years rather than the normal five, and occasionally the standard can be “short cycled.” A standard is short cycled only when there is a compelling reason to revise sooner than the normal five years, such as a breakthrough in technology or a previously unknown potential for harm. In the case of NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, the current standard is the 2013 edition and, following the normal five year cycle, the next revision will be the 2018 version. As of today, the standard is on schedule and is anticipated to be published in the third quarter of 2017, barring any public objections to the standard. What follows are four changes impacting garments that will occur with the 2018 revision: Coats and pants certified to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1971 will be required to have some type of access opening for inspecting the interior of the liner/moisture barrier system, which up until now has just been an option offered by some manufacturers. Outer shell fabrics are being required to meet an increased water absorption resistance; the current requirement is for no more than 30% absorption, and the new standard will change the allowable absorption to only 15% maximum. Changes are also being made to several test methods, most notably the shower test, which includes a new shower spray configuration. Additionally,...
Update: Firefighter PPE cleaning initiative

Update: Firefighter PPE cleaning initiative

As previously reported, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the standards research arm of the National Fire Protection Association, is working toward a project that has the short title, “How Clean is Clean?” This project is directed toward carrying out the research to understand the levels of contamination in firefighter clothing and how to properly clean that clothing. Here’s an update on where the project is going and some of the initial findings. To understand the significance of the project, it is necessary to recount the reasons that clothing contamination has become such a concern. For many, cancer in the fire service has reached a problem of epidemic proportions. Statistics clearly show that firefighters have an increased risk of certain cancers above the general population. Part of that risk is due to structural fires exposing firefighters to combustion products that include myriad of carcinogens. Most fire service organizations have adopted an aggressive posture to address ways to reduce risk through proper hygiene and other practices. Smoke particulates and fire gases easily penetrate turnout clothing and the clothing picks up and retains many of these contaminants. Thus, one way to mitigate continued exposure of firefighters to carcinogens and other harmful substances is to ensure that clothing is clean, a trend on the increase over the past two decades. Yet, despite the general improved practices, the industry still lacks any certainty if cleaning is effective and what approaches are the best to ensure that dirty or inadequately cleaned clothing does not become another way of creating firefighter exposure to carcinogens. Several studies show that firefighters are exposed to a variety of chemicals...
The Science Behind Fabric Stiffness Testing

The Science Behind Fabric Stiffness Testing

By Brian Shiels, Senior Development Engineer, PBI Performance Products, Inc. As you’ve probably noticed, there is a recent trend towards lightweight systems for turnout gear. Along with that trend, many fabric suppliers are shifting their focus towards the stiffness, or conversely the flexibility, of their fabrics being offered as part of these new lightweight systems. Anyone can easily perceive if a fabric is extremely stiff or flexible. But there’s a long-standing scientific test method that is used to determine, objectively, even the smallest differences in fabric flexibility. This article will explain how labs are using that test method to assign a standard quantitative value for stiffness to the new fabrics coming onto the market. ASTM International is widely recognized as one of the leading standards developing organizations in the world. NFPA 1971 currently references 40 different ASTM standards; that’s 10 more references than all other standards developing organizations combined. For that reason, many labs have turned to ASTM standards when looking for a new way to evaluate a fabric property. To evaluate fabric stiffness, most labs perform ASTM D4032 Standard Test Method for Stiffness of Fabric by the Circular Bend Procedure, which was originally developed in 1981 by ASTM Committee D13 on Textiles. Although the test equipment has evolved over the past 35 years, the principle of the test remains unchanged: to determine the amount of force that is required to push a fabric sample through a round hole. Naturally, a stiffer fabric requires more force to be pushed through the hole, while a more flexible fabric requires less force. Logistically, performing the test is quite simple. Because the...