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Industry Talk

Fire service at risk

A+A will present everything revolving around modern protective clothing for firefighters in Düsseldorf from 17-20 October.

19th September 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Dusseldorf


A+A, a leading trade fair with congress for safety, security and health at work, will present everything revolving around modern protective clothing for firefighters in Düsseldorf from 17-20 October. It will also explore the topic of soiling and contamination in a context of international studies, which show that firefighters are at a greater risk of cancer than the average population.

It is assumed that the reason for these risks are fumes whose poisonous particles are deposited in protective clothing after fires and which can enter the bodies of emergency personnel through their skins or respiratory organs. “New findings on the dangers of contamination of the most varied kind lead both to uncertainty and, at the same time, rising demands concerning the nature and implementation of care, control and repair,” said Daniel von Chamier, COO at the LHD Group Deutschland GmbH.

Live-demonstration by the Düsseldorf fire brigade school at A+A. © Messe Düsseldorf GmbH /ctillmann

“Basically, the clothing should be cleaned more regularly but then it also has to be able to withstand this washing,” said Klaus Hawerkamp from the Heinsberg protective wear supplier S-Gard.

Different materials and colours

To prevent soiling and any potential accompanying contamination the dark coloured items are on the decline. “There is an increasing switch to pale colours so you can see any soiling,” explained Texport Sales Manager Uwe Heinemann. “Sand tones or gold are being sold more and more frequently in Germany,” said Klaus Hawerkamp, from S-Gard. This is also due to the increasing proportion of PBI or Nomex outer fabrics used.

Materials are a very important topic because they contribute considerably to performance and weight. They are becoming ever lighter and more functional. Furthermore, they should be highly tear-resistant and visible thanks to high-vis materials. In view of the debate on soiling, in particular, they need to be easier to wash or withstand regular washing without losing any functionality.

© Texport

Layering plays an essential role. Moisture must be able to diffuse as quickly as possible to the outside. Because, along with thermal protection, effective moisture management has significant advantages for firefighters. If sweat is quickly transported outwards the risk of heat accumulation and thus the risk of burns is significantly reduced. This gives firefighters more time to react.

Rescue 4.0

A special focus at A+A 2017 is the topic of “Zukunft der Arbeit – Arbeiten 4.0” (Future of Work – Work 4.0). Across all halls exhibitors showcase highlights on Smart PPE, Digitalisation of Work and Digital Applications and Solutions. With this new concept, A+A offers a stage for the future topic of digitalisation which is already taken for granted in many spheres of life.

In fire protection, where networked data will be indispensable in future, this starts with deployment preparation, continues with deployment simulation for training purposes, through to deployment at the incident site. Currently, it is primarily small changes like the electronic control, for instance, of aerial ladders or drones, that are already in everyday use.

© S Gard

When it comes to smart apparel despite many varied projects and feasibility studies also promoted at EU level like Sensprocloths, Smart@Fire or Profitex, no prototype has ever made it to serial production. Devices can convey vital parameters and fire deployment data but they must also be manageable to use. “We have noticed that many of the previously developed systems that we have integrated into our suits have proven inconvenient and too high-maintenance or impractical in real life. Nevertheless, we have to forge ahead with research with our partners to be able to offer customers a well thought out, safe and practicable system as soon as possible,” explained Christian Pannier, Product Manager at LHD Group Deutschland GmbH in charge of the LION brand.

Knowing where the hazards lie

There are a number of challenges that lie ahead in the future. Until a few years ago protective wear for firefighters was regulated, while now we are spoilt for choice. “Twenty years ago, there were three or four different outer fabrics for protective firewear while now there are over 20,” said Pannier. This means accompanying advice is increasingly important.

However, those responsible can also protect their colleagues by really getting to grips with clothing hygiene. For this, there are two A+A exhibitors with relevant ranges. Just recently, the LHD Group Deutschland opened another LION TotalCare Center specialised in the washing and care of firefighters’ clothing. Texport has also launched a similar service called Clean & Care, which has now firmly established itself on the market.

© LION Apparel

Alternative washing procedures like CO2 washing are still in development. The Belgian Textile Research Centre Centexbel, for instance, found in a study that CO2 washing reliably and environmentally washes out aromatic carbons, that have been proven to be carcinogenic, as well as carbon-containing substances (PACs) and ones that easily evaporate (VOCs) as well as oil.

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