The effects of smoke exposure on the body have been linked to worryingly higher rates of cancer diagnoses and deaths among firefighters. This has presented a new challenge for the industry: to create PPE that acts as a barrier to toxins and potentially harmful smoke particles, while ensuring the body stays cool and dry.
Studies have shown that the neck and jaw areas are most vulnerable to smoke particle exposure, and that protective hoods are usually the most penetrable part of a firefighter’s kit.
Firefighters are now demanding more protection and Bristol Uniforms has responded to this call by working with fabric and fibre manufacturers to develop a revolutionary new Particulate Protection Hood, specifically designed to filter harmful smoke particles. Worn under the helmet and collar, it covers the vulnerable neck and jawline areas, and is proven to be 99.8% efficient at preventing particle exposure.
The new design crucially features the innovative Nomex NanoFlex particulate barrier from DuPont, which has been specifically developed to prevent contamination from potentially harmful particles. The new material is flame-resistant with superior particle barrier performance, but is also highly breathable, thin and light-weight, crucially allowing heat and moisture to escape. These are essential characteristics for the prevention of heat stress, and for improving comfort.
The Particulate Protection Hood has been certified to standard EN13911:2017 – the latest version of the CEN standard for fire hoods. It comes in two sizes, medium or large, and can either be quilted using Nomex and Kevlar with Viscose/Modacrylic (BRISTOL HOOD6) or Pbi/Twaron (BRISTOLHOOD7). Both versions showed excellent performance when tested for total heat loss and breathability.
Roger Startin, Joint Managing Director at Bristol Uniforms, said, “Our key focus for the design of this hood was to offer maximum protection against all potential hazards and risks to firefighters, whether the effects are immediate or long-term. The unique combination of materials means that as well as offering very high particle filtration, it is also comfortable, soft, and not too heavy or hot to wear.”
While these technological advances in particulate filtration are revolutionary, they are only part of the solution for minimising a firefighters’ exposure to harmful contaminates. Experts also advise that risks can be further reduced if exposed PPE is removed promptly and carefully following an incident, and then professionally decontaminated.
Bristol Uniforms offers comprehensive in-house managed services in the UK, and facilities abroad managed by appointed distributors, to handle the regular washing and decontamination of PPE after use. In the UK, a seven-day turnaround service from collection to return delivery provides garment scanning, washing, repair, inspection and tracking.
Bristol’s two UK Service Centres are also equipped to treat contaminated PPE garments, which have been exposed to toxic or hazardous materials and need to be cleaned in a specially controlled environment.