Shropshire Fire & Rescue place PPE order with FlamePro (UK) Ltd for the lightest, strongest protection system available in the market

Published:  06 March, 2012

The British company will deliver the structural fire fighter clothing made with inherently heat and flame resistant materials from Ten Cate Protective Fabrics.

This seven-year contract employs a new lightweight system, the TenCate Tecasystem Millenia 450, in the construction for more than 1,200 fire service outfits. The first 300 outfits are expected to be handed over in June 2012.

The fire brigade in Shropshire, England, has been looking for new developments in the market in order to improve the current personal protection systems. The specification required a durable fire fighting suit with less maintenance costs and better protection against the risk of heat stress. Heat stress is caused by the body's inability to maintain its average core temperature in arduous and stressful situations. Heat stress can cause fire fighters to lose consciousness or even worse, suffer a heart attack.

Producer FlamePro (UK) has developed a new FlamePro fire fighting suit based on advanced TenCate materials. TenCate Tecasystem Millenia 450 is the lightest, strongest protection system available in the market that meets the strict requirements of the European Norm EN 469/AC: 2005, level 2. It consists of an outer fabric in combination with a thermal and moisture regulating intermediate layer and a thermal liner. Each layer has been developed with its own functionality. As an integrated system, the layers are fully compatible with each other.

Kevan Whitehead, end-use market manager of TenCate Protective Fabrics, explained: 'Shropshire fire fighters will benefit from a light and comfortable fire fighting suit yet still be protected in the extreme conditions experienced in a raging inferno. In addition to fighting fires, fire fighters also turn out to a wide variety of other emergencies including road traffic collisions, hazardous materials and terrorist incidents. These various situations require multifunctional clothing that is lightweight, comfortable, strong and protective.'

The new fire suit has a unique design wherein any damaged parts - such as the fluorescent visibility stripes - can be easily replaced. Conforming to the requirements of Shropshire Fire and Rescue, the concept suits have been subjected to wearability and washing tests.

Members of the brigade visited TenCate Protective Fabrics in Nijverdal, the Netherlands, and in the laboratory they became acquainted with various types of material and their performance, including availability in the market. They were also shown a comparison between the materials of the current fire suit and the new lightweight protection system from TenCate.

Subsequently, Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service carried out a controlled programme of testing designed to measure the amount of energy expended whilst carrying out a series of tasks.

These tests were performed using five serving fire fighters (two female and three male) under the supervision of an experienced consultant. They were carried out over two successive days to allow a comparison to be made between the existing fire suit and the new protection system based on TenCate Tecasystem Millenia 450. The research demonstrated that compared with the existing garments the new fire suit required 25% less body energy, and offered both good protection against the danger of heat and greater comfort/freedom of movement.

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