A European conference on firefighter safety – the first of its kind to be held in the UK – has been hailed a huge success. More than 120 delegates representing 22 countries attended the Federation of the European Union (FEU) Fire Officers Associations spring meeting and conference, hosted by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and sponsored by DuPont.
The theme, ‘Improving Firefighter Safety – A European Perspective’, had been chosen to address one of the five key themes in the FEU’s 2020 vision document. Over three days delegates shared ideas and best practice, while discussing the benefits of working collaboratively to improve safety.
Among the speakers were manufacturers in the personal protective equipment (PPE) industry. Whilst no PPE will ever give complete protection against the risks from firefighting, manufacturers are constantly looking at ways to improve turnout gear to give extra seconds of safety when it counts. Representatives from DuPont, Hainsworth and Bristol Uniforms were on hand to explain the technology, hard work and innovation that goes into keeping firefighters safe through fibre development, fabric construction and garment design.
Zoltan Nahoczky, DuPont™ Nomex® Apparel Segment Manager, explained: “Keeping people safe is an absolute priority for us so we always welcome the debate on how to improve safety for our citizens and firefighters. At DuPont technical experts and scientists are constantly developing new methods and technology to improve firefighter safety, looking specifically at protection from heat and flame, durability and reducing the risk of heat stress. As lead sponsors of the conference and presenting during the day, we were able to encourage the sharing of knowledge, stimulate technological developments and promote collaboration between people across the European Union all with a common goal.”
The conference covered topics such as problems and developments in BA respiratory protection, the importance of firefighter training and firefighter wellbeing research projects. There were also talks on the steps Slovenia Fire & Rescue Service has taken to improve Slovenian firefighter safety and the lessons learned from the 2010 Shirley Towers incident from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Delegates also enjoyed lively debate and considered strategies to lobby the European Parliament to promote safety and sustainability initiatives across the EU area. The news of Sir Ken Knight’s recommendation to merge some of the 46 separate fire and rescue authorities in England was published on the morning of the conference, prompting much mixed debate and discussion before the conference had even started.
Nottinghamshire’s Chief Fire Officer Frank Swann said: “A great deal of positive work has already been done since the FEU’s formation in the early 1990s, with the FEU leading the way in a number of projects which have influenced and developed the role of the firefighter. I am confident that this year’s conference has gone a long way to improving links even further between our neighbouring countries and will serve as a solid foundation to future work and projects for many years to come.”