Guelph Humber University research selects merino wool as the best base layer choice

Published:  31 July, 2014

Firefighters experience many stresses, strains and challenges when performing firefighting duties in personal protective equipment.

PPE is an essential component of modern day firefighting equipment designed to save lives and reduce injuries. Extensive research has been conducted looking at the outer protective layers but little research has been undertaken to determine the effectiveness of next-to-skin clothing as part of a layered system.

An emergency responder’s next-to-skin, base layer clothing must optimize the necessary thermal protection during lives fires but also enhance thermoregulation during recovery and non-fire related calls to reduce cumulative physiological strain, while maintaining perceptual clothing comfort.

Research - Next generation base layers for firefighters

In 2013 Guelph Humber University in Canada researched four different base layers during live-fire evolutions to identify the next generation of baselayer systems for firefighters. Four different garments systems were tested and compared with live physiological monitoring and perceptual/sensorial measurement

The research finding ranked Armadillo Merino as the number one choice of next-to-skin clothing with 67% selecting Armadillo Merino as their first choice and 100% as their first or second choice.

Armadillo Merino garments don’t melt or drip and provide natural flame resistance up to 600C. No static generation, high UVA & UVB protection and highly effective thermo-regulation in both hot and cold conditions. Sweat is actively managed in both the vapor and liquid state keeping users comfortable while preventing odour production and helping to maintain a more stable core body temperature.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service chose Armadillo Merino to supply a head-to-toe clothing system in the UK. ‘We were looking for base layer garments which had fewer limitations and challenges than cotton or synthetic materials,’ explained Mark Jones, CFO. ‘We wanted a T-shirt style top that could be worn at all times when on duty, without the need to issue alternatives.’ The work of the Buckinghamshire technical rescue staff required base layer clothing that could be adapted to meet the physiological demands of challenging environments and differing weather conditions. The team is part of the national Urban Search & Rescue capability, meaning they can be deployed to incidents anywhere in the UK for extended periods of time.

The trials found the Armadillo Merino garments offered a higher level of flame resistance than existing next-to-skin clothing. The outcome of these trials was crucial in the purchase decision, stated Jones. ‘After a series of extensive and punishing wearer trials, the Armadillo Merino garments outperformed the cotton and synthetic alternatives, providing a good solution on the grounds of effectiveness and wearer comfort.’

 ‘Whilst there are less expensive garments available and money is always tight in this service, we felt that we needed a greater focus on improving base layer clothing in addition to outerwear PPE,’ Jones explained.

‘This represents a significant investment to improve the health, safety and welfare of our specialist staff that fits well with our ethos of seeking high quality to achieve the best value over time.’

  • Operation Florian

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