Keeping firefighters protected is a top priority for any fire and rescue service. After thorough research and a rigorous testing programme, the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) chose to make its turnout gear from Hainsworth® TITAN fabric.
The fabric incorporates DuPontTM Nomex® and DuPontTM Kevlar® fibres, ensuring that firefighters are protected with the latest heat and flame technology. The combination of the DuPont protective fibres and the construction of the fabric makes the turnout gear one of the safest, most comfortable and most sophisticated protective clothing systems in the world.
Latest heat and flame technology
The turnout gear, that is made from a patented double cloth construction, with DuPont™ Nomex® on the face to provide optimal thermal protection, abrasion resistance and colour fastness, and DuPont™ Kevlar® on the back to provide strength, offers exceptional heat and flame protection, chemical resistance, heat stress management capabilities and comfort. The award-winning, Hainsworth® TITAN used for the turnout gear is a patented outershell solution developed by Hainsworth Protective Fabrics, a DuPont™ Nomex® partner, and is used by a number of UK Fire and Rescue Services. The turnout gear is currently used by over 2,000 women and men firefighters across the county's 39 community fire stations.
What is Nomex®
Nomex® is a meta-aramid fibre that has been engineered to provide heat and flame protection. By weaving Nomex® into a fabric it provides inherent protection that will last over its lifetime and ensure that the fabric won't melt, drip or support combustion. The fabrics are then used in firefighter turnout gear, offering the wearer protection from heat and flames, plus offering excellent breathability to keep them cool and reduce the risk of heat stress.
How does Nomex® work?
A key factor in the protection provided by Nomex® fibre is its ability to carbonise and thicken when exposed to intense heat, which increases the protective barrier between the heat source and the skin and helps minimise burn injury. As the Nomex® fibres cool they solidify. Then, if subsequently flexed, they may fracture or crumble, which is sometimes referred to as 'breakopen' - a principle similar to that of a modern car designed to absorb the impact and crumple. The crumbling appearance is a clear sign that the heat has been absorbed and the garment has done its job and protected the fire fighter. Most importantly, this characteristic only occurs when the garment and the firefighter are out of the intense heat and the fabric has cooled down.