Vienna airport firefighters choose new turnout gear
Published: 01 October, 2005
2004 was a crucial year for Vienna-Schwechat Airport fire department; it needed to replace all its turnout gear with the very best quality equipment offering safety, comfort, effectiveness and durability - and so the service began a programme of testing and evaluation.
One of the firefighters’ requirements was that the garments had to withstand flashovers. They also had to resist direct contact with flames and heat while providing comfort and retaining structural integrity.
The winning products were coveralls produced by Texport in PBI Gold, with Fire-Twin PBI; uniquely - the upper material PBI is anti-static and flame-retardant, able to resist high temperatures.
“Even after direct contact with flames the material doesn’t break,” boasts Texport’s CEO, Otmar Schneider.
“In addition, it’s resistant against acids, leaching and other solvents. Flame tests by the airport firefighters proved that the Fire -Twin PBI kept its protective qualities in contrast with the other garments evaluated.”
Thanks to its many pockets and practical storage space the coveralls also met the individual design requirements of the Airport fire brigade.
“The garment fulfilled our requirements relating to security, practical suitability and durability,” commandant Ing. Gerhard Frenner told IFJ.
Wearable with safety
Otmar Schneider explains how the company developed its product. “A garment to protects an elite groups of firefighters was required. The goal was to develop wearable clothing that provided a sufficient safety margin for the wearer. Through co-operation and a close collaboration with specialists from Austria, Germany and Switzerland the first prototype of the Fire-Twin was manufactured. The numerous testing led to improvements until the development was finished.”
To fulfil the high quality standards of fire departments the company used materials from companies such as Gore and DuPont.
“We handle only best materials for this product, especially those which provide breathability and a weight reduction without affecting the high level of protection,” Otmar continues.
A membrane made from Gore-Tex Airlock is the best solution to assure those requirements, he argues. This system is a combination of heat protection and a moisture absorption barrier. Airlock is a Gore-Tex membrane with a ‘severe case of acne’. Foam silicon spacers are bonded to the membrane, thereby creating an air cushion between the outer fire resistant fabric and the inner lining.
About the coveralls
The Fire-Twin is a two-piece coverall. Thanks to a Velcro fastener at the waist the coverall can easily be separated into jacket and trousers, and even as single parts they conform to EN 469. Another advantage is that wearers can choose different sizes, like a jacket in size XL and the trousers in Medium. A better fit leads to more comfort and protection.
The knee-area is additionally reinforced with Kevlar-coated fabric protectors with removable pads. Elastic knit-cuffs at hand and leg seams form sealed seams - this prevents heat reaching the interior. The coverall offers optimum freedom of movement thanks to its design and cut. A newly-developed isolation system ‘Air Blocker’ at the shoulder area provides a further protective advantages.
Permanent air cushion
The special protectors in the inner lining mean a permanent air cushion is built between upper material and lining itself. The locked-in air permanently isolates this extremely exposed area of firefighters.
The Fire-Twin is available in several material versions incorporating Nomex Delta TA from DuPont or the latest material PBI gold from PBI Performance Products, Inc.