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The West Midlands Fire Service has selected the latest heat and flame protection technology for its new firefighting turnout gear made of Hainsworth® TITAN fabric that incorporates DuPont™ Nomex® and DuPont™ Kevlar® fibres.

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West Midlands Fire Service

The West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has rolled out new turnout gear to over 2,000 men and women firefighters across the county’s 39 community fire stations. The turnout gear 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 award-winning Hainsworth® TITAN used for the turnout gear is a patented outershell solution developed by Hainsworth Protective Fabrics, a DuPont™ Nomex® Partner, and is used by a number of UK Fire and Rescue Services. Hainsworth® TITAN offers exceptional heat and flame protection, chemical resistance, heat stress management capabilities and comfort.

A rigorous testing programme with men and women on 999 calls

The new firefighting turnout gear, dark blue and red in colour, replaces the magma coloured uniforms formerly worn by WMFS. The turnout gear was manufactured by leading designer and manufacturer of protective clothing, Bristol Uniforms.

As part of regular improvements made to personal protective equipment, firefighters from all over the West Midlands volunteered to take part in a rigorous testing programme to ensure the turnout gear offered the best fit and personal protection required for the job. Four different suppliers were each invited to submit three different turnout gear ensembles for firefighters to put to the test. The simulated test conditions included rescuing casualties from a fire house and road traffic collisions using Holmatro cutting equipment.

After the testing, the Hainsworth® TITAN turnout gear incorporating DuPont™ Nomex® and DuPont™ Kevlar® fibres was selected for the additional features it offered that maximise comfort and protection. WMFS female firefighters were particularly pleased that separate turnout gear was specially designed to provide a perfect fit for the female anatomy, therefore offering comfortable protection.

Nomex® turnout gear tested with zero burn injury predictions

George Farenden, a fire protective clothing specialist at DuPont in the UK with 30 years of first-hand experience as an operational firefighter, explains the benefits of this innovative fabric: “Hainsworth® TITAN incorporates DuPont™ Nomex® fibre, a recognised combination of flame protection and durability that 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 unscathed from the immediate danger.”

Tests on the DuPont™ Thermo-Man® facility predicted that wearers of the new turnout gear would come away from a duration of eight seconds of flash fire with between zero and 3% burn injuries.

Innovative fabric construction

Talking about the construction of the Hainsworth® TITAN fabric, Charlotte Brandt, Sales Manager at Hainsworth® Protective Fabrics, explained: “The fabric system reacts to extreme heat as experienced in a flash fire. When exposed to intense heat or flame, the Nomex® face absorbs and dissipates the heat, converting it into a char barrier, taking the hit and acting as a heat shield. Meanwhile, the different reaction between the Nomex® face and the Kevlar® back creates ‘Active Air Entrapment’ within the multi-layer assembly that offers the garment wearer greater thermal insulation when it is most needed. The fabric is complemented by Hainsworth® REPEL+ finish that meets the chemical protection and spray rating requirements of EN469:2005, even after repeated laundering.”

One of the safest turnout gears in the world

Charlotte continued: “The combination of the protective fibres and the construction of the fabric makes the turnout gear 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 highest level of protection, whatever response their 999 call requires. It makes sense that such a large brigade should choose to equip its firefighters with one of the best turnout gear for their needs and we are delighted that Hainsworth® TITAN won the day in the selection process.”

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