Firefighter comfort and safety is a priority

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is set to replace visors on all firefighter helmets after reports from crews that the current visors mist up. 

The new visors, part of a package of personal protective clothing supplied to operational crews, have been undergoing tests to ensure that they suitable and can stand up to the punishing conditions firefighters often find themselves workng in on the incident ground. The scale of the problem is illustrated by the fact that of 90,000 incidents where visors have been worn, there have only been 11 reported health and safety incidents.

ACFO Adam Eckley, who heads ECFRS' Assets, Resources and Administration Directorate, said: “We had reports some time ago that some crew members have had problems with their visors fogging up in cold weather so we have been testing anti-mist visors to replace the current stock.

“As with all personal protective clothing, the visors had to undergo rigorous testing before we can be confident that they are appropriate for the use we intend to put them to.

"Other fire and rescue services have had similar problems but some replacement visors have been prone to crazing. We have been doing additional research work to ensure that we do not replace one problem with another and to ensure we order the best product for Essex crews."

ECFRS' Technical team, based at Hutton headquarters and responsible for firefighter kit, spends a lot of time and effort in trialing new and improved uniforms and equipment for frontline staff.

This week sees the rollout of a wildland firefighting PPE pilot in the County with crews from Loughton, Colchester and Braintree using new uniforms to test their effectiveness and suitability and to find out whether the kit will be a useful addition to present PPE.

With a change in climate bringing very hot and humid summers over recent years, the project was initiated in response to firefighter concerns over existing PPE during sustained periods of hot, dry weather when their primary activity is fighting grass and woodland incidents.

The new kit is made of a heat and flame-proof material and provides firefighters with overall protection and, most importantly, comfort.

“The safety and comfort of our firefighters is paramount and testing on new and improved equipment is something we do all the time as soon as we were made aware of any problem," said ACFO Eckley.