Gatwick Airport Fire & Rescue Service Chooses DuPont™ Nomex®
Firefighter turnout gear has dramatically progressed since the woolen uniforms that were first used by brigades in the 1800’s. Historically, wool was the obvious fabric choice due to its ability to shield against heat and cold and because of its mild water and flame resistance. Often rubber coats were also worn over woollen uniforms to provide an additional layer of protection.
The practice of wearing woollen turnout gear for firefighting continued until the mid 1970’s when DuPont, Hainsworth and Bristol Uniforms began collaborating to manufacture technical fabrics and help shape the future of firefighter protection. One of the key aspects of this was DuPont™ Nomex®, the fibre at the heart of today’s turnout gear. Unlike wool and other materials available to firefighters and emergency service personnel, protective clothing made of Nomex® fibres are inherently flame-resistant and don’t melt, drip or support combustion in the air. Fabrics made from Nomex® fibre are lightweight and their high air permeability allows body heat out of the garment, thus reducing heat stress – the number one cause of casualties among firefighters.
Today, woollen tunics remain firmly in the past, as advancements in fabric and fibre technology have radically progressed. DuPont is one of the leading innovators in firefighter turn out gear and its Nomex® fibre has generated international interest for its unique protective qualities.
Gatwick Airport Fire and Rescue Service
London Gatwick is the world’s busiest single runway airport and the UK’s second largest airport, processing in excess of 35 million passengers a year who are travelling to any one of 200 destinations worldwide. This busy airport is supported 24 hours a day by Gatwick Airport Fire and Rescue Service; a dedicated team of 81 staff made up of fire managers and firefighters. Gatwick Airport Fire & Rescue Service are regularly required to attend aircraft emergency calls, medical calls, domestic fire calls, road traffic collisions and any other emergency incident in the immediate airport area. However, Gatwick Airport Fire and Rescue Service is also tasked with inspecting and maintaining fire service equipment and carrying out fire safety inspections within the airport terminals and surrounding buildings. With such a variety of potential day-to-day tasks, fire fighters need turnout gear that is both comfortable for everyday wear, but also offers high levels of protection for use in a wide range of emergency scenarios.
With employee safety a top priority, Gatwick Airport Fire & Rescue Service has now invested in new turn out gear made from DuPont™ Nomex® that allows firefighters to work safely and effectively in hazardous environments. Following an extensive trialling process when the garments were measured against a strict set of requirements including cost effectiveness, comfort, durability and practicality, uniforms made from the innovative Nomex® fibre were chosen.
Developing the Partnership
Ian Cope, Station Manager Gatwick Airport Fire and Rescue Service said: “We chose the turn out gear supplied by Bristol Uniforms and made from the Nomex® fibre after a long evaluation process that included trialling garments from various suppliers. Part of the procurement process included physical testing of the garments for a period of time in the station and in a variety of operational/training environments. Fire fighters would then score the garments on their design, comfort, functionality and the quality of the product during and after use. When choosing garments, we also looked into the after sales requirements, such as the repair, maintenance and certification of the product, as well as how long it would take for new supplies to be ordered and delivered.
“We felt that the uniforms supplied by Bristol Uniforms best matched the philosophy of the Airport Fire & Rescue Service in their quality, design, functionality and cost. The trials highlighted that garments not only provided excellent protection against heat and flame, but also offered excellent wearer comfort and abrasion resistance.”
Rigorous Testing Methods
Talking about the certification and testing of the turnout gear, George Farenden, consultant for DuPont explained: “A world leader in market-driven innovation and science, DuPont is constantly developing ways to improve turn out gear to meet the stringent demands of the modern day firefighter. We rigorously test all garments that carry the Thermo-Man® icon. Through the use of the Thermo-Man® icon on the label, DuPont can prove that the garment has been tested on Thermo-Man® using the industry standard eight second flame impingement test. This life-sized mannequin system was developed by DuPont to assess the quality of firefighting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in an open flame and is one of the most advanced thermal burn injury evaluation devices in the world. Because of this, DuPont™ Nomex® customers can be reassured that their garments will keep them safe even in the harshest of conditions.”
High Levels of Protection
To ensure the maximum protection of the wearer and combat the trade in counterfeit products, DuPont has also developed the DuPont™ Nomex® Partner Program - a carefully-selected network of spinners, weavers, knitters and garment manufacturers whose fabrics and garments are of the highest standard. All partners in the programme benefit from the technical expertise of DuPont and have access to state-of-the-art product testing facilities, where the quality and performance of finished fabrics and garments can be closely monitored. In order to qualify for certification by DuPont, all fabrics must undergo rigorous testing to prove that they, not only meet the standard quality criteria, but also exceed them.
George Farenden, continued: “The DuPont™ Nomex® fibre is a first choice for fire brigades who rely on its inherently flame resistant properties to help keep them safe. In collaboration with our Partners (spinners, weavers, knitters and garment manufacturers), we can be confident that we are providing Gatwick Fire and Rescue Service with the very best protection on the market.”