OHS Canada Magazine

Innovations continue in firefighting PPE

Improved washability features, connected PPE coupled with enhanced analytical capabilities, and ergonomic helmets are the latest in fire-related PPE.


Draeger’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is the foundational tool that provides the greatest amount of airway protection from toxic gas and harmful particulates resulting from fire. (Supplied)

By Treena Hein

Fire safety is always a paramount workplace safety concern, and field equipment continues to evolve in terms of design and materials.

Improved washability features, connected PPE coupled with enhanced analytical capabilities, and ergonomic helmets are all trending, according to various research reports on fire-related gear.

Appropriate-fitting gear for female firefighters is also in the spotlight.

For example, Oakville, Ont.-based Levitt Safety offers True North Women’s Wildland Pants.

All True North flame-resistant Wildland gear includes a micro-adjustable waistband, as well as hook-and-loop ankle straps that prevent steam burns by keeping embers out.

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Self-contained masks

Respiration equipment continues to undergo innovation in order to make it more comfortable, lighter and more durable, according to Susan Yu, director of marketing at Draeger Safety Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont.

There is also “increasing testing and innovation to offer sturdy respiratory protective equipment for the simultaneous protection of head and respiratory equipment,” she said.

Draeger’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) comes in two formats.

The PSS 7000 ergonomically floats on the wearer’s waist, keeping the SCBA at a lower centre of gravity and allowing for less stress on the wearer during movement. The PSS 7000 can be adjusted for height and the full face mask comes in nine different sizes.

The mask also “sets new standards” with 180-degree, panoramic visibility with a triple seal for maximum reliability.

The distortion-free polycarbonate visor uses heat-resistant thermoplastic and prevents fogging through an innovative design that provides an even distribution of airflow across the mask.

The PSS 5000 SCBA provides many of the advantages of the PSS 7000 at a lower cost.

Levitt Safety offers True North Women’s Wildland Pants, which include a micro-adjustable waistband, as well as hook-and-loop ankle straps that prevent steam burns by keeping embers out. (Supplied)

‘Connected’ PPE

There is a strong trend of “connected” PPE that is coupled with enhanced analytical capabilities, according to Derek McEwen, market segment manager, fire systems and mining technology, at Levitt Safety.

“All PPE, including fire-related PPE, is trending towards being internet-connected, allowing for new levels of safety and site management,” he explained.

Levitt offers the MSA FireHawk M7 Responder Air Mask, which can quickly transform into an air-purifying respirator or powered air-purifying respirator.

This means users can change respirator modes as a job changes direction from first response and rescue to scene management and remediation activities.

In addition, there are many life-safety design components, such as a 95-decibel alarm which gets louder as heat increases.

In-mask communications

Draeger offers two in-mask communications options.

Team Talk Independent Fire Ground Communications can be found with the FPS-COM 7000 and allows standalone hands-free communication between wearers. Tactical Fire Ground Communications is available with the FPS-COM 5000.

To manage potential distress, Draeger makes an all-in-one distress signal unit and pressure gauge which continuously monitors the operational status of any NFPA-certified SCBA (2019 editions).

All information is brought together clearly and rapidly on a digital display with large, easy-to-operate buttons that can be pressed with gloved fingers.

In addition, when triggered, the Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) flashes lights both on the unit and on the carrying systems.

Levitt offers WES3 — an enhanced wireless evacuation and medical alert system.

It provides 24/7 fire detection capabilities to increase safety on worksites (occupied or not) and improves response time for evacuations and medical emergencies in complex environments.

WES3 is made up of several different types of units and each unit comes with a three-year battery-powered sensor.

Extinguisher training

Because practising with fire extinguishers using live fire has many disadvantages, Pyrosoft (available through Levitt Safety) has created six simulator training platforms.

This technology allows workplaces to offer a comprehensive fire extinguisher training course, with the ability to create your own fire scene using real video footage.

The six simulators are each designed for a different purpose.

For example, “Flare” is designed for small fires like garbage cans and lawnmowers.

“Firefly” is designed for industrial-grade fires and “Flashpoint” is designed for training professionals and larger companies.

Students-in-training can learn about the effectiveness of different extinguishing agents on a given fire type, and adjust levels of difficulty by changing fuel flammability, re-flash speed and discharge time.

Treena Hein is a freelance reporter in Ottawa.

This Safety Gear feature appears in the September/October 2021 issue of OHS Canada.


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