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Photo courtesy of DuPont

One of the cities of Cleveland, Ohio. The fire department's serious injury occurred three years ago when Lieutenant Frank E. Riels fell from a burning roof into a sea of ​​flames on the second floor of a building. The person who jumped out of the second-story window escaped.

Lears suffered third-degree burns to his face, neck and one hand (he took off his gloves to operate the radio). The heat conducted through the boots also suffered minor burns to the back of his legs. However, thanks to comprehensive training on importance and wearing complete protective equipment, Leers is still alive today. Properly worn knitted gloves with wrist straps and leather palms, as well as Nomex petticoats and hourglass pants, protect the rest of Leers from fire.

Whenever I hear firefighters complain that the bunker pants are too hot, I think about it. Thankfully Leers put safety first.

Of course, the floor drain pants are very hot. However, the jacket and bun trousers provide more protection than the combination of jacket and high boots without bun trousers. Therefore, we are not letting our firefighters decide not to wear bunker pants because of the high temperature, but to manage the fire scene with sufficient manpower so that the firefighters have time to rest. We will further protect and test the survivability of short coats and bib cover pants to help reduce back injuries. The weight of traditional switch gears and equipment is concentrated on the shoulders and back, while the weight reduction of the short coat makes the weight of the bib cover pants concentrated on the hips and lower body. We believe that this is the best protection for our firefighters.

We have always believed that wearing appropriate protective clothing and equipment is the top priority of management responsibility-to convince the city council that the cost of equipping a firefighter is closely related to his safety and well-being.

The cost of injury seems high. In addition to obvious medical expenses, injuries also include light work, disability claims and early retirement. The purpose of this is to convince the government and council members that, in the long run, they will save money by spending more money to equip firefighters with the most technologically advanced switch equipment and equipment. Some savings are indirect or hidden. When firefighters know that the city cares enough to equip them with the best equipment, they are more likely to provide citizens with 150% of the cost.

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This “safety first” approach can be traced back to 1970, when, under the direct order of our former fire chief William E. Barry (William E. Barry), the Cleveland Fire Department took the lead in the United States to distribute to all firefighters Turnout coat made of Nomex aramid. Nomex is an inherently flame-retardant fiber with a protective layer that will not wash or wear.

The act of providing firefighters with the best switch equipment set a precedent; in 1972, a clothing and safety committee was established, composed of union members and fire department officials. The responsibility of the committee is to test and evaluate new equipment and clothing. In 1977, the committee became the responsibility of the trade union with contractual rights.

Today, the city provides each firefighter with two sets of turnout equipment. The price of each set manufactured according to our specifications is approximately US$1,000, including a specially designed turnout coat, hourglass pants, boots, a helmet and required gloves. The initial cost of this department was between US$300,000 and US$400,000, but now we are able to operate with a maintenance budget of US$100,000 per year.

The first step taken by our Apparel and Safety Committee is to qualify the new firefighting clothing to meet the National Fire Protection Association’s "1971 Code", "Structural Fire Protection Clothing" and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Requirements of "Standards for Fire Brigade Protection". Structural firefighter's clothing.

Our other requirements for turnout coats and trousers include: extra-large pockets with small drainage holes in each corner; accessory pockets; shoulder pads that reduce the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA); and extended Reflexite trim at night Easier to spot firefighters.

The basic switch coating we use has three protective subsystems: shell, moisture barrier and thermal insulation lining. The outer shell is made of yellow duck woven fabric (white made of chief jacket), made of Nomex III aramid, weighs at least 7.5 ounces per square yard, and is waterproof.

The moisture barrier is made of lightweight tear-resistant pajamas Check Nomex, which is coated with a neoprene compound that will not break under hot and cold conditions. Flame retardant compounds are used in a variety of coatings to make the lining 100% waterproof. The lining must pass a hydrostatic pressure test of at least 25 psi and must not break when tested at -20°F.

The internal thermally conductive lining must be Nomex cotton wool, sewn on the ripstop pajama inspection cloth of the moisture barrier, weighing 8.5 ounces per square yard.

A few years ago, we experimented with removable thermal insulation linings in the summer, but found that a coating with only two protective layers did not provide adequate protection. Because these jackets (such as bunker pants) are warmer, we manage the fire scene and provide sufficient rest time for each firefighter.

Our clothing and equipment specifications are the basis for field testing at the busiest stations, because no one is more qualified to evaluate fire fighting equipment than firefighters. After the Apparel and Safety Committee evaluates the results, the department’s recommendations will be submitted to the City Council.

Many of the special features of our switch gears are derived from suggestions made during field testing. For example, due to an accident with Lieutenant Lille, we used a walkie-talkie with a detachable external microphone. The microphone was clipped to the collar of the turnout jacket. It has larger mushroom-shaped buttons instead of traditional small embedded buttons, so firefighters can operate with gloves. The walkie-talkie is located in the switch jacket in the specially designed radio pocket.

Our turnout coat has soft padding on the shoulders for easy carrying of SCBA. The bellows structure under the sleeve prevents the sleeve from slipping off when the firefighter raises his arm. We also specify that each jacket has a 872-inch long wristband, which is made of aramid fiber and is in a 1 X 1 inch ribbed knitted fabric, weighing no less than 10 ounces per square yard. We chose Kevlar because it is flame-retardant, if it is caught by sharp edges, it is difficult to tear, and it can maintain its shape well.

The wristband is connected to the inside of the sleeve of the jacket and sewn together to form a "fingerless" glove. When the firefighter put on his jacket, his hand passed through the wrist strap. The sewn part is located between the thumb and index finger, so the wristband will not slip. This provides continuous protection against burns to the wrist and forearm.

To further protect the hands and arms, we use knitted gloves and wristbands made of aramid aramid with wool lining, and chrome-tanned leather palms for better flame resistance and abrasion resistance. We have used rubber gloves before, but the rubber does not breathe and often causes steam burns.

We also use the latest helmets and masks. In 1980, we switched from on-demand masks to positive pressure masks now authorized by Ohio law at a huge cost. The helmets we use are very lightweight, but because they have a crash cap (similar to the structure of a motorcycle helmet) inside, they can withstand more impact from the top and sides. The helmet can also withstand higher temperatures. The helmet has pull-down acrylic goggles and ear flaps made of Nomex aramid fiber. The flaps are very effective in preventing burns, so we are currently testing a full face mask to be worn under the helmet.

Is all our time and money invested in security worth it? The answer is simple. Since we describe the conversion to a complete turnout gear, the number of severe burns has been greatly reduced.

My question to department managers who do not support a complete turnout equipment concept is: how important do you think the safety of firefighters is?

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