Protective clothing for firefighters
The European standard EN 469 specifies the minimum requirements for protective clothing for firefighters that must be worn during firefighting and related activities such as rescue operations and disaster relief.
The EN 469 standard guarantees protection against accidental splashes of chemical or flammable liquids and also sets which tests to be carried out on this type of protective clothing to determine the various performance levels.
Protective workwear for firefighters Workwear for firefighters: what risks it protects against
There are many dangers for a firefighter, just think of the different facets of this job. I DPI designati dalla normativa The PPE designated under the EN 469 standard act as protection in several ways:
- Against heat and flame in firefighting and related activities;
- Protection from water in case of rain and water jets;
- Protection against mechanical risks in certain operations;
- Protection in case of poor visibility;
- Protection against contact with dangerous liquid chemical material;
- Protection against limited electrostatic charges.
Scope and general requirements
The firefighters’ operations are truly manifold, as are the specializations of this National Corps. According to this standard, the garments are designed to be used in case of fire.
Clothing for firefighters must have specific characteristics such as:
- They must guarantee protection to the neck, arms up to the wrists and legs including ankles;
- The trousers and the jacket must always be overlapped during the operations;
- Any rigid accessories must not come into contact with the inner surface of the garment;
- Supplementary PPE (such as gloves or helmets) must maintain intact the performance level of the garment;
- They must be made with anti-sweating barriers, to prevent the capillary rising of water;
- They must have reflective bands for high visibility;
- All materials and seams must be fireproof, water-resistant, water vapour and chemicals.
The fabric of which the firefighters’ clothing is made must have a three-component structure:
- The flame and heat resistant outer layer must act as an initial shield against heat, flame and abrasion thus protecting the inner layers;
- The middle layer must act as a moisture barrier, reducing the amount of water that could penetrate the garment. At the same time, it must ensure breathability allowing the water vapour to escape;
- The inner layer, made of thermal material, must provide an air pocket to protect the operator from external heat.
More on the 469 standard
To ensure maximum protection for firefighters, there are several PPE that should be combined with the clothing depending on the specific operation to be carried out:
- UNI EN 15090:2012, this standard specifies the minimum requirements and test methods that footwear for firefighters must have.
Specifically, it covers three types of footwear designed for rescue operations in general, rescue in fire-fighting operations and emergency situations in the presence of hazardous materials.
- UNI EN 659:2008, this standard defines the minimum performance requirements and test methods that protective gloves for firefighters must have. The standard only applies to protective gloves that protect the hands during normal firefighting and search and rescue operations.
- UNI EN 16473:2015, the standard specifies the minimum requirements that must have helmets for technical rescue intended to protect the upper part of the head mainly against the effects of mechanical hazards, such as the impact and flame penetration, electrical and chemical hazards.
- UNI EN 443:2008, the standard specifies the minimum requirements for helmets for firefighters that primarily protect against the effects deriving from impact, penetration, heat and flame when fighting fires in buildings and other structures.
- UNI EN 16471:2015, the standard specifies the minimum requirements for helmets for fighting forest and/or vegetation fires that mainly protect against the effects of an impact, a penetration but also the heat of flames and burning embers. It also specifies the requirements for marking and the information to be provided by the manufacturer.
- UNI EN 13911:2017, the standard specifies the minimum safety requirements and test methods for fire hoods to be worn in firefighting operations. This standard only applies to situations where protective clothing (UNI EN 469), respiratory protection devices (UNI EN 136 and UNI EN 137), and helmets (UNI EN 443) are also worn.
- UNI EN 136:2000, the standard specifies the minimum requirements for full-face masks for respiratory protection devices, excluding those intended for underwater use. It also contains practical use tests and laboratory tests to assess compliance with the requirements.
- UNI EN 137:2007, the standard specifies the minimum performance requirements for self-contained open-circuit compressed air breathing apparatus with full face mask used as respiratory protection devices, except for escape and diving apparatus. This equipment is intended to be used in work situations where the risk of over-pressurization of cylinders equipped with their valves, due to very hot environmental conditions, is low. Laboratory and practical application tests are included to verify compliance with the requirements.
- UNI EN 14458:2018, the standard specifies the minimum requirements of visors specifically designed to be used only with protective helmets/hard hats. Visors can be permanently fixed or can be removable from the helmet or hard hat. They are not intended to protect against smoke and gases or vapours.
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