Should firefighters wear a level of protective clothing on duty?
The men and women who protect the citizens of a country are undoubtedly heroes. However, even heroes need a certain level of protection in order to be as efficient as possible and to prevent themselves from incurring injuries. Firefighters are just one of the heroes that countries can't live without and in an effort to prevent years like 2007 in the UK, that saw 8 firefighter fatalities, from recurring, body armor has been brought into question. The USA is also a region where body armor will prove to be more than essential, especially when looking at the number of firefighter fatalities being as high as 64 in the year 2012.
Typically used in the military and worn by members of law enforcement, body armor has received insurmountable praise for the protection it has provided and the number of lives it has saved throughout the years. An introduction of body armor into the fire department is a necessary one. The forms of body armor that will be beneficial to firefighters include ballistic protection, stab protection and fire retardant carriers.
Where fire retardant carriers are concerned, there are 3 major products that need to be analyzed before coming to a conclusion on which will offer the best protection for firefighters facing a fire. These are:
Nomex was developed by DuPont in the 1960's and contains commendable features that ensure protection from high heat. The honeycomb structure of Nomex (pictured in action above left) is incorporated into clothing and soddened in Phenolic resin which increases the level of heat resistance. One of the most remarkable qualities of Nomex is the thickening effect which creates a barrier to protect the wearer when high temperatures are introduced.
Proban is a flame retardant that can be applied to the fabric and provides protection to the wearer through the formation of an insulating char.
Cantex implements cotton as well as flame retardant fabric to provide both comfort and resistance to heat. It is more suited to electricians or other persons working in a field where static electricity poses a threat.
Though when one thinks about the risks associated with being a firefighter, fire and smoke are primarily what comes to mind, there's a lot more that poses as a threat. In such a career flame retardant clothing may not be enough and ballistic/stab proof vests may come in handy more often than not.
In fact, a large number of the injuries incurred by fire fighters are from sharp objects. In addition, firefighters are also sent on duty to active shooter events where the threats at hand, are unquestionably high. In such an event, law enforcement officials are responsible for offering protection to firefighters and try to keep them as far away from the incident as possible but close enough to be effective.
However, such attacks can be very unpredictable and firefighters can see themselves in a heated situation without sufficient warning and thus, unable to receive enough protection from the law enforcement officials. This is where ballistic/stab body armor from recommended companies like SafeGuard Armor comes into play and contributes the much needed protection to firefighters. With stab and ballistic body armor, firefighter will also be able to work in closer range to the threat, providing civilians with the assistance they need at such a time, which in turn, will reduce causalities.
Of the 64 firefighter deaths in the United States in 2012, 38% were as a result of the firefighter being struck or coming into contact with a harmful object. Of this 38%, 3% were caused by gunfire.
Evidently, the risk of being a firefighter is very high, and it's a job that brave men and women take on with pride. Body armor is needed in order to minimize the chances of fatalities occurring. With body armor designed for a wide range of different risks, there's protection available for pretty much any circumstance a firefighter may find him/herself in.
There are covert vests which are worn under clothing and offer great protection for firefighters who want to retain a level of protection. Overt vests are typically designed with higher levels of protection in place and are ideal for high risk situations. Additionally, there are vests which are equipped to increase the level of protection depending on the risk at hand. Using the renowned Kevlar, body armor is just what is needed to keep firefighters safer when on duty in a high risk environment. Dangers can come from all angles and when least expected. Body armor is a means of expecting and preparing for the unexpected.
Body armor, instills a high level of confidence in those wearing it because they know that this added protection is what will give them an increased edge over perpetrators. It's better to be safe than sorry, and in the case of a firefighter, their practice is one that revolves around safety. The more protected they are when in harm's way, the more effective they will be at bringing civilians to safety.
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