Time to ditch the compromise?

Published:  24 June, 2015

WL Gore launches a membrane solution that it believes does away with the compromise between thermal protection and comfort.

The Parallon System comprises not one waterproof/breathable membrane but two newly-developed Gore membranes ‘sandwiched’ around a thermal barrier. By keeping the thermal layer dry, Gore believes that the Parallon System will prevent steam burns that can occur in sub-flashover conditions when wearing wet gear. It will also prevent wet compression burns that can occur when a firefighter bends down or kneels when wearing hot and wet gear.

Speaking to Hemming Fire, Denise Tracey, Product Specialist at Gore explained that the Parallon is the result of market research that indicated that although firefighters liked the Gore membranes’ level of protection they nevertheless felt comfort could be better: ‘Not so much in a structural fire situation but certainly when working outside the fire ground or at an incident you may become more aware that you are wearing a level of protection that is higher than what is required for that situation. And then you can feel hot and sweaty,’ she explained.

In the past, fire services have had to chose between fire kit with a membrane between the outer layer (eg the Nomex/PBI fabric) and the thermal layer, or fire kit where the membrane is between the thermal layer and the next-to-skin layer. Putting the membrane next to the outer layer results in decreased breathability but increased protection (by keeping the thermal layer dry). Putting the membrane close to the skin provides greater breathability, but risks the thermal layer getting wet from the outside, thereby increasing the transmission of heat.

The high breathability of the Parallon ‘sandwich’ is ensured by some clever garment construction. While the inner membrane is completely seam sealed so that the wearer is protected from outside moisture, the outer membrane is only seam sealed at key places such as the shoulders. In Denise Tracey’s words, this creates a ‘funnel’ effect with the widest point on the outside membrane enabling the moisture vapour to quickly dissipate outside: ‘So as soon as the moisture has evaporated through the first membrane, it goes straight out.’

According to Gore, one of the benefits of the new system is consistent thermal protection. Its research has indicated that when tested for an indicated time to second-degree burn in an ordinary fire ground heat exposure (i.e., 0.2 cal/cm2sec), wet conventional gear loses 34 percent of its thermal protection compared to when it was dry. This is because water transmits heat quicker than air. However, its research highlights that the Parallon liner system loses only 4 percent of its thermal protection, remaining relatively unchanged after becoming wet. To prove that this does indeed make a noticeable difference, Gore has developed an ‘oven glove’ demonstration where users can feel the difference for themselves. By holding their hands over streams of hot air, one encased in a wet Parallon fabric ‘oven glove’ and the other in normal glove featuring a membrane next to skin (i.e. with the thermal layer wet), users can verify the difference for themselves.

Interestingly, in order to comply with NFPA standards the Parallon will come in a slightly different version for the North American market. NFPA 1971 specifies that the outer shell be removable from the moisture barrier and thermal barrier sewn together, so an additional layer has been added to the Parallon to protect the outer membrane. ‘But the system works exactly the same, as the thermal barrier is protected,’ clarified Denise.

An additional important benefit of the Parallon is that by keeping the thermal barrier dry the drying time of the full fire kit ensemble can be reduced drastically from around five hours to only two hours.

Although Parallon is not commercially available yet, availability is expected late summer or early autumn. 

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

Calendar

  • 18 April, 2018, 9:00 - 19 April, 2018eRIC