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Strong Thermal Protection for 6,000 Firefighters

London Fire Brigade is taking advantage of the latest technology from DuPont and Hainsworth in its selection of a new firefighting kit made of TITAN® fabric incorporating DuPont™ Nomex® and DuPont™ Kevlar® fibres.

The kits, which are to be manufactured throughout 2009 by leading designer and manufacturer of protective clothing Bristol Uniforms, form part of London’s 8-year contract with Bristol to supply 6,000 firefighters across the Capital with new tunics, over-trousers, helmets, fire hoods, gloves and boots.

Eight year contract to kit out 6,000 men and women on 999 calls
Work began last year to replace the current kits, which have been in service since 1999. The new TITAN® kits, which will serve well into the next decade, were selected from a number of potential kits following a series of rigorous testing and evaluation, including trials by Brigade operational staff. Every element of the new kit has been designed to integrate with each other and the new kit is fully compatible with all other equipment used by the Brigade at incidents such as breathing apparatus sets and chemical protection suits.

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London Fire Brigage

Commenting on the contract award, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “The current kit has served the Brigade well but we have taken advantage of the latest technology from an evolving and competitive market to purchase a replacement that is safe, light and comfortable. The safety of our firefighters is of paramount importance and a new fire kit has been chosen that will meet the exacting standards demanded by the London Fire Brigade.”

The new PPE will be rolled out to men and women fire fighters in 112 fire stations across London for use when responding to 999 calls. The contract also includes a lifetime managed care service under which Bristol will regularly collect, inspect, repair and wash all the clothing, and record and monitor equipment condition through a computerised tracking system that identifies each item of clothing to its wearer and their location.

TITAN® kit tested with zero burn injury predictions
Offering exceptional heat and flame protection, chemical resistance, heat stress management capabilities and comfort, the award-winning TITAN® fabric used for the fire kits is the result of a collaboration of specialist knowledge, experience and resources between DuPont and its Nomex® Programme Partner, Hainsworth Protective Fabrics.

Explaining the benefits of this innovative fabric, George Farenden, a fire protective clothing specialist at DuPont in the UK with 20 years of first-hand experience as an operational fire fighter, said: “TITAN® fabric incorporates Nomex® fibre, which, due to its unique combination of flame protection and durability, is worn by more than three million firefighters around the world. Nomex® can withstand intense heat and flame for an extended period and will not melt or drip onto skin if engulfed in flash fire. Because it doesn’t support combustion in the air, it means that once removed from flame or heat, it self-extinguishes, which gives firefighters extra time to escape from the immediate danger.”

Recent tests on the DuPont™ Thermo-Man® facility predicted that wearers of the new TITAN® kit would come away from a duration of 8 seconds of flash fire with between zero and 3% burn injuries.

Innovative fabric construction
Talking about the unique construction of the TITAN® fabric, CharIotte Brandt, Sales Manager of Hainsworth Protective Fabrics, explained: “It is made of a patented double cloth construction, with DuPont™ Nomex® on the face to provide optimal thermal protection, abrasion resistance and colour fastness, and DuPont™ Kevlar® on the back to provide strength. The fabric system reacts to extreme heat as experienced in flash fire conditions. When exposed to intense heat or flame, the Nomex® consolidates causing the Kevlar® to ripple and remain undamaged. The rippled Kevlar® creates air pockets that offer the garment wearer greater thermal insulation when it is most needed. The fabric is complemented by Hainsworth’s Repel+ Fire finish, which meets the chemical protection and spray rating requirements of EN469:2005, even after repeated laundering.”

Possibly the safest kits in the world
Charlotte continued: “The combination of the protective fibres and the construction of the fabric make the kit one of the safest, most comfortable and most sophisticated protective clothing systems in the world. This affords wearers the confidence of knowing that their clothing will offer the high level of protection their 999 call requires. It makes sense that the world’s third largest fire brigade should choose to equip its fire fighters with the best kit for their needs and we are delighted that TITAN® won the day in the selection process.”

The kits, which Bristol Uniforms has named ‘Ergotech Action’, provide improved fit, wearer comfort and less weight without compromising levels of operational protection. Combating wearer heat stress has been a key focus in the design process and these kits help reduce internal body heat build-up for greater safety under extended operational conditions.

Roger Startin, Bristol’s joint managing director said: “The award of this important contract is a major milestone for the company and I believe, reflects the hard work and investment we have put into the technical advancements we have made in firefighter PPE over the last 5 years. We very much look forward to developing a close working partnership with London Fire Brigade over the 8 years of their supply contract so as to ensure the people of London are served by one of the best clothed and protected firefighting forces in the world.”

TITAN® is a registered trademark of A.W. Hainsworth & Sons Ltd.