Emergency services personnel in the UK have seen their roles change significantly in recent years, as they respond to the challenges of the modern world. Today, less than 10% of UK fire and rescue service call outs are for fire-related emergencies. Instead, firefighters attend a wide variety of other incidents, including traffic accidents, medical emergencies, flooding, chemical spills, public unrest, and collapsed buildings
As a result, firefighter PPE has been steadily evolving to reflect this change, with manufacturers and designers striving to produce protective garments to suit a variety of environments and operations, and to help minimise health risks. Whether attending an incident at the roadside, at an intense fire or in extremely cold conditions, emergency responders need to maintain a comfortable body temperature and stay dry. They also need protection against harmful chemicals, carcinogens and pathogens, and need full range of movement to carry out the job in hand.
RescueFlex is Bristol Uniforms’ range of cutting-edge technical rescue PPE. Specifically developed for use in technical rescue and urban search and rescue (USAR) operations, it is also ideal for many everyday situations faced by the modern firefighter, where lighter and more flexible clothing can be more appropriate than full structural PPE.
RescueFlex comprises a rescue jacket and trouser based on Bristol Uniforms’ popular XFlex design. It incorporates two layers: a flame-retardant outer layer and a waterproof membrane, in a choice of specialist materials, which offer a high level of protection against wind, water and flame. Fabric options include the new Gore Varde fabrics, which are particularly lightweight and breathable.
Quilted padding at high risk points such as the knees and elbows provides additional physical protection, and importantly, the coat and trouser can be zipped together to maintain protection when manoeuvring and crawling. RescueFlex is also tear and puncture resistant, and provides protection against blood-borne pathogens – essential when attending to casualties.
Crucially, RescueFlex offers a particularly high level of flexibility for excellent manoeuvrability in confined spaces and is lightweight to minimize heat stress. It is available in a range of colours including red, navy, orange and Hi-Viz orange.
RescueFlex meets the CEN standard for protective clothing for firefighters, EN 16689:2017, which specifies performance requirements for technical rescue clothing.
The latest version of the innovative RescueFlex range is available as part of the Collaborative Framework procurement programme, ensuring that UK fire and rescue services (FRS) across the UK have access to up-to-the-minute technology and design.
As well as the full USAR Coat and Trouser set, Collaborative Framework customers have access to a new Rescue Coat based on the RescueFlex jacket. It has been designed to be worn with XFlex trousers as an alternative to the full structural XFlex coat, for those emergencies and rescue operations that do not specifically need full protection to structural fire levels. The outer shell has a Hi-Vis yellow GoreTex laminated lining, and also features vented underarms for greater air circulation.