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Fire Prevention Week: The most effective PPE gear

04-09-2014

Photo shows firefighters dealing with a house fireAnyone who has ever seen a fire get out of control knows what an utterly terrifying and fearsome sight it can be. Once a fire takes hold there is little you can do but get back to a safe distance and hope for the best.

However, for fire fighters, there is an obligation to protect people and property from fires, which often means putting themselves in incredibly dangerous situations. Throughout history many brave fire fighters have had to do this without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Modern PPE does offer a greater degree of protection against fire but at the same time, this has also meant that fire fighters can now tackle blazes at closer range, so the risks remain very high.

Fire fighters attempting to tackle a blaze will at the very least need a protective suit, a helmet, gloves and toe-capped boots. They also need to have eye protection in the form of goggles or a visor. As well as this, there might be more specialist PPE that is required in certain situations, such as at extreme heights, for electrical and chemical fires, and in confined spaces.

In more dangerous and extreme conditions they will also need breathing apparatus, with a distress signal unit, contents gauge and personal line included.

Fire fighters’ PPE needs to be thermally protective, to prevent excessive heat penetration, as well as highly visible for smoky environments. All of this equipment needs to offer maximum protection but not compromise manoeuvrability or freedom of movement.

However, as any fire fighter will tell you, the best way to deal with any fire is prevention in the first instance. As already mentioned, once a fire takes hold it is incredibly difficult to stop, so the best course of action is to ensure you stop fires starting and spreading.

Smoke alarms are the most obvious example of a simple and easy to use fire prevention system. Over the years, smoke alarms have saved countless thousands of lives and prevented the destruction of huge amounts of property. It is early warning systems such as these that are the focus of Fire Prevention Week. A correctly installed and regularly checked smoke alarm is invaluable in any building where there is a risk of fire.

Photo shows a smoke alarm

Smoke alarms from Protec Direct are effective, and affordable. There’s really no reason why you wouldn’t fit your house, office, school, or any other building with smoke alarms to help warn those around if the situation of a fire did arise.

As well as having smoke alarms, further fire prevention equipment such as well-placed fire blankets and appropriate fire extinguishers can also help to save lives and prevent fires spreading. A fire extinguisher should be used as a last resort and training should be given to employees as to their correct use and which types of extinguishers should be used on the different fire types. Training in the correct use of a fire blanket is also essential.

Of course, all of us hope that we never have to resort to using fire-fighting equipment but having the knowledge about how and when to use it safely could save your life. That’s the overall message of Fire Prevention Week.

With the correct equipment and training, you can give yourselves and others the best chance of preventing, halting and, most important of all, surviving a fire.

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