Todd Herring, our VP of Product Innovation and Strategy, discusses the importance of innovation to keep first responders safe in a recent guest spot from Cleveland.com!
Pivotal Innovations in PPE
Advancements in technology have allowed manufacturers to continue developing innovative PPE solutions to meet the specific needs of emergency responders across the globe.
From the development of particulate blocking hoods to alternative PPE options, manufacturers have invested in research toward creating better solutions for the modern needs of first responders.
With an increase in non-fire emergencies, donning the appropriate PPE is vital to the overall health of the firefighter or emergency professional responding. It’s important to consider that structural-firefighting PPE is designed specifically to protect firefighters from the thermal, physical and other unique hazards of interior structural firefighting.
But donning structural gear on non-fire emergencies can lead to stress on the body while contributing to cross-contamination. That’s why the innovations in PPE are pivotal in reducing heat stress and the spread of contaminants.
Non-Fire Calls on The Rise
As communities continue to evolve, many fire departments are experiencing a high volume of non-fire calls. To meet this demand, manufacturers have begun offering single-layer alternative PPE garments to mitigate the risks of developing heat stress.
Wearing this lighter gear as an alternative to turnouts on calls that don’t require the same amount of thermal protection -- like motor vehicle accidents, emergency medical calls and confined-space rescue -- can help firefighters maintain their body’s core temperature and prevent them from becoming unnecessarily overheated.
Alternative PPE also provides versatile protection during EMS and outdoor wildland emergencies while making them easily identifiable to the public when on scene.
In addition to the recent focus on lighter, more breathable PPE options, manufacturers are also finding new ways to protect against fireground carcinogens, devising durable protection for the highly absorptive areas of the skin with particulate blocking hoods.
Particulates are microscopic particles that are present in smoke and soot. Many are known carcinogens and are potentially harmful when absorbed into the skin.
The areas surrounding the jaw, face and neck are extremely permeable compared to other areas of the body and create a greater risk for carcinogen absorption. With particulate blocking hoods, firefighters increase their protection against these potentially carcinogenic particles and other harmful toxins.
The manufacturing industry will continue to pivot its focal point on developing innovative PPE as the fire industry evolves. Teaching firefighters the importance of wearing the correct PPE during a call is only the beginning toward reducing the chances of heat stress and cardiac arrest amongst firefighters.