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Emergency Services Show 2009
Feature: 8/12/2009

he challenging and complex nature of today’s emergencies, from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to the current swine flu pandemic, makes it essential for individual agencies to work together to ensure a more effective response.

To encourage multi-agency co-operation, the Emergency Services Show on 24th and 25th November brought together Category 1 and 2 Responders, Government departments, NGOs and voluntary organisations along with 350 trade exhibitors.

There was a strong turnout of exhibitors from the workwear and PPE industry – and here is a selection of what they had to offer.
The SealSkinz stand made some big waves – not least as visitors were invited to splash around in a water-filled tank to test out SealSkinz’s fully waterproof, windproof and breathable hand, foot and head accessories.

“We haven’t stopped all morning,” Andrew Dahl, managing director of SealSkinz, said. The Norfolk-based company had just launched its new ‘Duty Range’ of waterproof socks, gloves and hats, its first specifically designed for the industrial, emergency services and corporate clothing markets.

Until now, its revolutionary waterproof technology had been mainly used in the Outdoor and Cycle markets. “We discovered that outdoor workforces were buying existing SealSkinz products on the high street – and launched the Duty Range to specifically cater for the great demand from the industrial, emergency services and corporate organisations,” Andrew said.

The majority of products are made with unique SealSkinz patented technology, which works via a seamless three-layer construction – an outer, a waterproof highly breathable membrane and an inner lining. Three types of glove have been CE- and EN-approved, undergoing SATRA testing to prove resistance to water penetration, micro-organisams and blood borne pathogens, water vapour permeability, abrasion, cuts, tears and punctures; petrol, oil and lubricants; and burning heat, contact heat, convective heat and radiant heat.

The range comprises 18 products, suitable for a variety of outdoor working conditions. These include socks to wear with shoes, trainers and boots, plus the Utility Glove, which is close-fitting and dextrous, incorporating Merino wool for exceptional wicking and thermal performance. A heavy-duty version is also available with a rugged kevlar outer, as well as an FR version. SealSkinz products are also largely manufactured in the UK, with 70% of all socks and gloves produced on these shores.
There was a jubilant mood on the Lion Apparel stand – they had just been awarded the contract to supply structural firefighting suits to all three of the Welsh Fire and Rescue services as part of a TotalCare Managed Service agreement.

Mark Walker, business development manager, told director-e: “The contract was going to be signed today (24th November) but it has been delayed because the Welsh Assembley and BBC Wales want to be involved. This is the first time that the Welsh fire brigades will have identical uniforms – before, their kits have been completely different in spec and appearance.”

This is the first time that Lion Apparel has won the Welsh contract. Approximately 8,000 Pro-Tek Max Fire Suits, designed to provide the highest standard of protection for firefighters and incorporating some new design innovations ,will be issued in April 2010.

The Pro-Tek Max Suit incorporates a PBI Matrix 205 gm outer fabric, giving extremely high mechanical and thermal properties and a Gore Crosstech Fireblocker waterproof, breathable moisture barrier. The garments also utilise a new proprietary lining system, developed by Lion, that uses a special wicking technology to remove moisture and heat from the body.

The contract was awarded to Lion after an extensive evaluation and trial process that included garments from all of the main suppliers in the UK.
Monarch Textiles, a manufacturer of foul weather and high-visibility clothing to a number of police forces in the UK, has designed a new police jacket especially for women. Sales manager Andrew Buckley said: “We work hand-in-hand with individual police forces, developing products with features to satisfy operational requirements.

click to magnify“We have designed this gender-specific police jacket because normal jackets can look like a sack of spuds on some women and, most importantly, be uncomfortable. This new jacket has been designed especially to fit a woman’s body by our in-house design and technical team in consultation with female police officers at Kent Police. The result includes a smaller waist and narrower shoulders.

“It’s currently being issued to new police officers in Kent and they love it so much that the other policewomen who are wearing the original jackets want one, too.”

One police officer who was no doubt pleased to hear about this new innovation was Tracey Moynihan, who has taken over the role of national co-ordinator for the British Association of Women in Policing (BAWP). Tracey, a Metropolitan Police inspector, was on the BAWP stand throughout the show to answer questions and to listen to concerns affecting women police officers and staff.

Tracey, who has been a police officer for 17 years, said she has taken on her new role at BAWP to help make a difference and push women’s issues further up the agenda.

“I feel very strongly about police uniforms for women, having had great problems myself just in getting a basic pair of trousers and a shirt to fit,” she said.

Yorkshire-based fabric manufacturer Hainsworth had two questions for visitors and firefighters: ‘Do you get sweaty feet?’ and ‘How much protection do you receive against heat and flame from your boots?’

CharIotte Brandt, sales manager of Hainsworth Protective Fabrics, explained: “We want to explore the potential for wool in the protective market and see if woollen insoles could make fire fighter boots more comfortable.

“Hainsworth used to provide woollen jackets to London Fire Brigade and wool is still a great fibre. It’s comfortable, sustainable and has great thermal properties, keeping you cool when you are hot and warm when you are cold.”

Wool is at the heart of Hainsworth’s heritage – it has been making woollen uniforms for the British Army since the Battle of Waterloo and is still finding new markets for it. Earlier in the year, it launched 100% biodegradable woollen coffins into the UK market and, following the overwhelming response, recently took them stateside.

BM Polyco exhibited a range of high performance products at the show. These included cut-resistant Metallica™ gloves along with the extreme needle- and slash-resistant HexArmor® and multi-application Granite 5™ ranges of gloves.

The company’s range of safety gloves offers some of the toughest on the market, giving emergency services personnel first-class protection for dangerous tasks. Metallica™ – winner of the BSIF Product Innovation Award 2009 – is made from a patented metallic yarn and delivers cut level 5, the highest level of cut-protection on the market, without impinging on users’ dexterity. Metallica™ can be used for a wide variety of applications where a high level of cut-resistance and dexterity is required.

The HexArmor® range, designed for law enforcement and waste and refuse purposes as well as other applications, provides laceration- and slash-resistance. Thanks to the innovative use of layers of SuperFabric®, the gloves also offer exceptional needlestick protection.

The long-standing Granite 5™ range of gloves offer a number of benefits including cut-resistance and protection for a number of applications, including fire-fighting tasks.

“Many public service professions are highly demanding and dangerous and therefore need equally resilient PPE,” James Arrowsmith, business development manager at BM Polyco, said. “BM Polyco’s safety gloves are designed to be category leaders – benchmarked and tested for performance and reliability. To maintain this high standard, our products are subject to one of the most rigorous Quality Assurance regimes in the glove industry to ensure they perform when needed.”

Author: Catherine Christie
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