Sponsored by Globe
By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
In the past decade, there has been a steep increase in what the fire service has learned about two significant risks firefighters face during interior structural firefighting operations:
- Exposure to airborne particulates present in the smoke of today’s structure fires.
- Heat stress arising from the physical exertion of firefighting while wearing structural firefighting PPE and SCBA, which can lead to a sudden cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
The 2018 edition of NFPA 1971: Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting lists particulate-blocking hoods as optional in the section titled “Additional Performance Requirements for Optional Structural Fire Fighting Protective Hood Interface Components Providing Particulate Protection” (Section 7.14).
Although the requirements for a particulate-blocking hood are still listed as optional in NFPA 1971, most manufacturers of structural firefighting PPE have already invested heavily in the new breed of protective hoods because the demand from the fire service is already here.
HOOD MAKER MEETS TECHNOLOGY PARTNER
Globe, now part of MSA Safety, didn't produce the first particulate blocking hood for firefighters, but when they did enter this market, Globe did their research and adopted emerging technologies. That meant teaming up with another industry leader in the firefighter PPE world, DuPont Personal Protection, with their innovative particulate-protective fiber technology, Nomex Nano Flex. The result is MSA’s Globe Guard Hood, a new particulate-protective firefighter hood.
Yes, there are other hoods that incorporate the Nomex Nano Flex technology, says Jeff Fackler, North America business development director for DuPont Personal Protection, but Globe was one of the first PPE manufacturers to adopt the Nomex Nano technology for use in their protective gear (coats and pants), where it gained much experience and success.
“I think this development of the Globe Guard Hood is a key step for this technology and extends the premium performance available in head-to-toe protection for firefighters,” said Fackler.
FOCUS ON FIREFIGHTER PROTECTION
In designing the new Globe Guard Hood, MSA and DuPont were looking to address those two primary risks – exposure to airborne particulates, which can include toxins, and unabated heat buildup – in a big way.
According to Derrick Mitsch, product line manager at MSA, supplying protection on the fireground meant more than just developing Globe’s first particulate-protective hood.
“The development of the hood is really in line with everything that we do at MSA to advance firefighter protection and safety,” he said.
The three-layer Globe Guard Hood provides particulate barrier coverage throughout the entire garment. Both the outer and inner layers of the hood are made using a Nomex/Lenzing FR knit blend. According to Mitsch, this helps protect the head and neck from toxic airborne particulates, particularly soot.
“As we did our homework, we found that the Nomex-blended fabric was the preferred choice for use in both the outer and inner layers of the hood because it provides such a high level of both comfort and thermal protection for the wearer,” he said.
“As the outer layer, this material provides good flame and thermal resistance, as well as durability,” said Mitsch. “As the inside layer closest to the skin, it is soft and comfortable for the firefighter wearing it, while wicking moisture away from the skin.”
The middle layer, which is the particulate-protective layer, uses the Nomex Nano Flex fabric. This elastic non-woven fabric, made of submicron continuous and inherently flame-resistant fibers, has several properties that make it ideal for use in a particulate-protective hood:
- The fabric is 90% air and 10% fibers, which makes it lightweight.
- The fabric’s small fibers provide for good thermal insulation and thermal resistance.
- The fabric’s engineering provides for the filtration of particulates while also providing high air permeability and moisture management for comfort.
Another important factor was making sure that firefighters could have optimal situational awareness.
“In talking with firefighters, we learned that letting sound through the hood is just as vital to a firefighter as the protective aspects,” said DuPont’s Fackler. “Many times, firefighters find themselves in positions where visibility is not great, and they must rely more on their sense of hearing.”
The company likes to demonstrate that sound transmission feature by having someone talk to another person through their Nomex Nano Flex hood, using their cellphone’s speaker.
“They quickly hear a big difference,” said Fackler. “On the fireground, being able to hear and be heard, amongst all the chaos and stuff that’s going on, is critical.”
The Globe Guard Hood offers firefighters additional features for full coverage and added protection.
“The ergonomically designed panels and wider bib of our hood give the firefighter a better fit around the head and shoulder and greater coverage without compromising range of motion,” said Mitsch. “Other important design goals were to provide a secure fit around the SCBA facepiece and to reduce bulk under the helmet.”
With the Globe Guard Hood joining the MSA line of head-to-toe structural firefighting PPE and SCBA, the makers made sure that the hood was not only compliant with the NFPA 1971 requirements for the optional hood interface component providing particulate protection, but that it interfaces securely with any SCBA manufacturer’s facepiece, including MSA’s G1 SCBA.
So, from their helmets to their boots, firefighters know that choosing MSA and Globe products for all their firefighting PPE results in a structural firefighting protective ensemble that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Get more information from Globe.