GORE-TEX Professional (Gore) raises personal protection for technical rescue teams to a new level with the introduction of a unique waterproof, windproof and breathable (WWB) fabric that enhances comfort while protecting from blood pathogens and flash fire. The new GORE-TEX CROSSTECH® PYRAD® stretch fabric pushes the envelope for high-performance rescue garments, combining several of Gore’s proven world-leading technologies in a bespoke rescue application. This achieves unprecedented freedom of movement and mobility, while also protecting from the many risks encountered at rescue incidents.
The nature and complexity of technical rescue activities varies significantly and the working environment of a rescue incident such as a road traffic accident, water or animal rescue is completely different from a fire. These incidents now account for over 80% of call-outs for fire and rescue services across Europe. While this trend continues to increase, in most cases, firefighters respond to them wearing full structural firefighting gear, which is not as ideally suited to the task at hand. Structural fire gear is more insulated and robust so overprotects for technical rescue situations and doesn’t offer as much freedom of movement required for rescue work.
Many services provide lighter-weight specialised suits for their technical rescue teams, but these do not protect from any additional risks such as fire, chemicals and blood-borne or viral pathogens and often pick up rain and moisture, becoming cold and uncomfortable.
Up until now, protecting firefighters at rescue incidents has always involved compromise – either they work in their structural fire gear that offers barrier protection against liquid and are over insulated, or they operate in lightweight suits that don’t protect from all the risks and quickly become very uncomfortable in poor weather.
Blood-borne and viral pathogen protection
Firefighters need the confidence that their clothing will protect them from all the risks that they face at a rescue incident. GORE-TEX CROSSTECH® PYRAD® stretch product technology combines four of Gore’s proven technologies in technical rescue activities and is designed specifically to protect from pathogens found in blood and body fluid, as well as common chemicals such as petrol, battery acid and hydraulic fluid. The fabric is inherently flame retardant, protecting the wearer from incidental flame and flash fire.
The GORE-TEX CROSSTECH® PYRAD® stretch fabric is incredibly light and stretches four ways to achieve the exceptional freedom of movement required for working in confined spaces and unusual situations. The fabric moves with the wearer like a high-performance sports garment and the elasticity delivers optimum fit, expanding and contracting with any layers worn underneath. The improved fit enhances breathability as sweat evaporates through the garment more efficiently when the fabric is closer to the skin.
Waterproof, windproof and breathable
Rescue teams no longer have to endure becoming wet and cold in bad weather at protracted incidents. The new specialised fabric is windproof, waterproof and resistant to water pickup so that it does not become heavy when wet and dries quickly. High breathability ensures that the wearer stays dry and comfortable on the inside in hot weather.
Suzanne Prince, Associate at GORE-TEX Professional, said: ‘This innovative product technology sets a new standard for personal protection for technical rescue. After detailed research, we have brought together proven Gore technologies to create a solution that delivers previously unheard-of performance and comfort. Rescue teams often work for long hours at incidents and in all weathers. They need high levels of comfort and mobility that will also protect from the threat posed by blood-borne pathogens, chemicals and flash fire. The new fabric eliminates the traditional compromise between comfort and protection for rescue work, delivering a specialised solution that is more advanced than any alternative.’
PYRAD® technology confirms flame retardancy
In independent ISO 13506 burn tests on a thermal manikin, a garment with GORE-TEX CROSSTECH® PYRAD® stretch did not melt, drip or break open, with no significant burns recorded – a key element for technical rescue responders who need protection from flash fire.
Garments manufactured with the new laminate are compliant with EN ISO 20471 high-visibility requirements for professional use. The unique PYRAD® technology allows for a range of high-visibility colours such as red, orange and yellow as well as wider range to match specific requirements of Fire and Rescue services.
50+ industrial wash cycles
The new specialised fabric has a longer than average lifespan but still copes with the operational rigours and frequent decontamination needs of rescue work, withstanding over 50 industrial washes using ISO 15797 table1 method. The flame and pathogen protection does not degrade over time and the seams and fabric will remain intact after washing to ensure performance throughout the lifetime of the garment. The longer operational lifespan reduces the number of garment replacements, which in turn lowers environmental impact. By keeping products in use for longer, their overall lifecycle impact is reduced. Because most of the resources and energy are consumed during the production and distribution processes, garments with a longer product life significantly reduce use of these resources. This improves sustainability of the product and is in line with the globally standardised (ISO 14040-14044) Life Cycle Assessment approach used to measure and understand the environmental impacts of GORE-TEX products.
Enthusiastic user feedback
As part of an extensive programme of research and wearer trials, GORE-TEX CROSSTECH® PYRAD® stretch garments have been tested by technical rescue teams around Europe, including Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in the UK. The response was immediate and enthusiastic. As soon as they picked the garments up, firefighters commented on how light they were. They said that the gear felt more like sport or leisure wear and really appreciated the freedom of movement and comfort. Those that tried the gear in the rain were surprised at how easily the water ran off the fabric, keeping them dry throughout the day. Firefighters present at fire testing were impressed by the fire-resistant performance in such a lightweight garment. Many were reluctant to give the test samples back.