Set and match

Published:  02 September, 2015

Ensuring all your PPE is compatible is critical for ensuring the safety of the wearer, writes Philip Tasker, UK Sales Director, Bristol Uniforms.

In the oil and gas industry items of protective clothing are frequently acquired separately rather than as complete ensembles. This practice makes it particularly important for users to check for garment compatibility as different manufacturers’ designs when used together may not perform to the protective standards to which individual items have been tested and approved.

Single sourcing of matched coats and trousers ensures that the garments will have been tested and that they perform to the required standard, whether this is EN469:2005 Level 1 or 2, NFPA1971:2013 or regional variants such as the German HuPF, Australian Standard AS/NZ4697:2009 and Austrian Standard AS-04. Adopting a procurement policy that specifies head-to-toe protection enables the manufacturer to ensure that boots, gloves and helmets are all fully compatible with the fire coats and trousers and therefore that firefighters are provided with the best possible all-round protection.

Protective coats and trousers form the core of body protection for firefighters but key elements such as careful sizing and the compatibility of all the garments when worn together also need to be taken into account when selecting and sourcing helmets, boots and gloves.

Areas of potential exposure risks are the neck, wrists and waist as well as the bottom of trouser legs. The wide range of helmets, boots and gloves available on the market makes the correct matching of these items to the coat and trouser all the more important.

Well-designed fire coats and trousers ensure maximum protection at the waist in a two-piece ensemble. The ability to zip together the coat and trouser to form a one-piece garment can offer better protection, particularly in operations requiring extensive body manoeuvring such as in technical rescue.

Fire hoods protect the neck but they also provide a degree of flexibility for matching the collar shapes in different types of fire coats with different types of helmets.

The similar principle applies to the wrist area, where purchasing organisations need to carefully match the sleeve design with the cuffs of the structural or technical rescue gloves. Similar factors need to be considered when matching protective boots with trouser hems, and special attention must be paid to the protection of the calf area.

Bristol Uniforms’ technical department provides a PPE compatibility service to enable Fire and Rescue Services to check compatibility of a new design of jacket and trousers with a wide range of helmets, boots and gloves in a range of sizes.

Do you know your PPE responsibilities? Do you want to find out the latest research and thinking related to firefighters’ clothing? is hosting the PPE & Duty of Care Forum on 2 February 2016 – to register visit:

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