More firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer in the last two years than in the previous 10 years combined, and sadly, one in three firefighters will die of cancer. With a minimum of nine Group 1 carcinogens in all fire, the smoke surrounding firefighters is hazardous and potentially lethal at high-enough concentrations. These dangerous carcinogens can enter firefighters’ bodies through absorption through the skin; firefighting makes firefighters significantly more likely to develop multiple types of cancers compared to the general public.
Absorption of dangerous chemicals and contaminates due to wearing inadequately cleaned PPE, or PPE which doesn’t effectively block dangerous particulates from the skin, is one of the industry’s primary concerns for today’s firefighters. Adding to this problem, for every 5 degrees your body temperature rises your skin absorption rate increases 400%.
Three of the top four highest skin absorption areas on the human body involve the head and neck area (According to research by Dr Stuart Baxter, Jan. 22, 2009 – UC Seminar). Currently, this is the only area of a firefighter’s PPE ensemble not protected with a moisture barrier. One of the primary reasons for not incorporating a moisture barrier in flame resistant hood PPE worn by firefighters is the concern with the heat stress. Currently, flame resistant hoods without moisture barriers have excellent breathability, allowing body heat to escape through the scalp and reducing the firefighter’s core temperature and the dangers of heatstroke. Additionally, today’s firefighting hoods are made from flame-resistant knit fabrics, which have superb stretch and recovery properties, allowing the hoods to be stretched over SCBA masks to form a comfortable seal around the mask and mask hardware. If a moisture barrier were to be added to the hood fabric, most of the stretch and recovery characteristics would be eliminated.
PGI has developed a new line of firefighting hoods named Cobra™ BarriAire™ incorporating a proprietary Particulate Barrier fabric, which we’ve strategically located in areas that have the greatest risk of exposure to the firefighters – the neck and jaw. These hoods maintain the exceptional stretch and recovery properties of our regular hoods, allowing them to interface seamlessly with SCBA masks and mask hardware. Additionally, the Particulate Barrier fabric is extremely supple and lightweight, weighing only approximately 0.5 oz./sq. yd – Making it barely detectable. The fabric also has excellent breathability, maintaining the comfort currently only attainable by hoods without a Particulate Barrier and allows body heat to escape around the neck and head, reducing the likelihood of heat stress.
PGI’s Cobra BarriAire hoods were developed in an effort to reduce firefighter exposure to potentially dangerous and toxic particles routinely encountered while on a working call. Particles can range from asbestos to drywall dust, but the largest contributor of particulate contamination at the fire scene is carbon particles from incomplete combustion of organic substances – also known as soot. Soot particles absorb and hold fire gases, making them more dangerous than plain carbon. While many particles are visible, many are submicron-sized and can easily penetrate the porous surface or gaps in hood PPE. PGI’s Cobra BarriAire hoods have been designed to block more than 95% of particles below 1 micron in size in the key neck and jaw areas. Penetration of dangerous particulate to the skin will be greatly reduced or eliminated substantially minimising the chance of toxic carcinogens being absorbed into the body. Additionally, the Particulate Barrier enhances thermal protection performance (TPP) of the hoods giving you precious additional time you may need to get out safely.
PGI has manufactured quality PPE since 1942 and is still dedicated to providing its customers with safety garments made to and exceeding the highest industry standards. As a market leader in technology-driven personal protective apparel, PGI designs and manufactures innovative garments for firefighters, EMS, police, military, and industry professionals around the world.
PGI will be attending A+A in November.
For more information, go to www.pgi-safety.com