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Recreating Real Conditions for Nomex® Firefighter Clothing Test

DuPont, in conjunction with its Nomex® Partners, has initiated a new long time test programme for fire protection clothing made of Nomex® with the aim of evaluating the performance of the latest generation of DuPont™ Nomex® outer gear.

Located at Wasserbillig, Luxembourg, RAGTAL (Regionale Atemschutz-Geräte-Träger-Ausbildungsanlage) trains firefighters from across Europe in a wooden-heated fire facility and flash over unit. RAGTAL’s training programmes consist of experiencing the correct tactics to be adopted to attack a fire inside a building, fire fighting in complicated conditions such as low visibility, emergency rescue from extreme situations as well as the use of video cameras to detect people and fires.

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Nomex® Firefighter Clothing Test

With approximately 1,000 trainees per year, the physical stress for every instructor of the Combat Fire Behaviour (CFB) team is quite demanding and, therefore, reliable performing protective apparel worn during the training programmes is important to the trainers. That’s why the RAGTAL fire trainers wear leading edge protective apparel with an outer layer of Nomex® Tough that not only offers outstanding flame and heat resistance but is also extremely durable since Nomex® is inherent in the fabric, retaining its protective properties throughout the life of the garments.

Design modifications to meet demands of fire trainers

The Nomex® protective clothing worn by the RAGTAL Combat Fire Behaviour instructors is the result of a two-year joint project, run by DuPont in conjunction with six Nomex® Partners: fabric manufacturer Fritsche and the garment manufacturers Consultiv, Isotemp-Vorndamme, S-Gard, Texport and Viking. The manufacturer’s standard dark red designs are used in the clothing that features an outer shell of Nomex® Tough. However, slight modifications were made to the designs to meet the special requirements of the RAGTAL training crew.

Life test programme under real conditions

The Nomex® fire fighting apparel that was given to RAGTAL in June 2009 initiated a new evaluation programme within DuPont. The CFB trainers act as experts who test the wear and comfort of the apparel and put the performance of the suits to the acid test under the given extreme conditions.

After every session, the trainers control and record the quality of the protective clothing. Their experiences of protection and comfort, fabric construction, membrane performance and the performance of other materials used are passed on to the respective manufacturer and DuPont. This feedback serves as a basis for the improvement of fire protective apparel made of Nomex®.

“The protective clothing for the RAGTAL Combat Fire Behaviour instructors are premium products and their efficiency is tested daily,” says Ian Samson, UK Regional Manager, “the knowledge we gain forms the basis for future developments of Nomex® products to achieve our goal of increasing the comfort of high performance garments for the next generation of fire fighting suits.”