There’s More To Wear Than Fire Gear

By Ricochet Gear February 03, 2022
Equip your personnel with the right PPE for the incident.

As research and education continue to expand our working knowledge, we are becoming adept at working smarter, not harder. We are being made aware of new risks and challenges as well as innovative ideas and equipment that help our overall health and safety. One of these is the increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is made for specific responses.

Today’s modern structural firefighting PPE is designed to give us the best possible protection while working in a severe environment. One drawback of the structural firefighting PPE is its weight and bulkiness when used in incidents other than firefighting. To counter that is the availability of PPE designed specifically for EMS and technical rescue.

Ricochet EMS gear is NFPA 1999 approved, protecting you from blood-borne pathogens, bodily fluids, and most other liquids that we would typically come in contact with on-scene. This is done using a certified moisture barrier and proper seam-sealing techniques in manufacturing. Visibility is also a key factor in EMS gear, especially when considering motor vehicle accidents and various nighttime responses. Ricochet offers the RescueVIZ™ EMS line of jackets and pants that meet EMS ANSI-107 certification. Along with the moisture barrier and visibility features, these garments are the most breathable EMS gear on the market today. The standard-issue package includes a fully sealed 3.5 oz/yd2 HiViz Yellow CROSSTECH® EMS fabric shell supplying vapor-permeable, liquid, and blood-borne pathogen protection. It also has a breathable mesh lining with an inside barrier inspection/access port. A 2" Silver reflective heat applied trim encircles jacket cuffs and jacket body around the chest and back with two vertical stripes on the chest.

Ricochet’s USAR/Tech Rescue PPE is dual certified to both NFPA 1999 and NFPA 1951 Level II, which provides multi-faceted protection in the forms of flame resistance, abrasion resistance, and blood-borne pathogen protection. The specific 1951/1999 dual certification is important.

The NFPA 1951 Level I standard requires an outer shell for flame and abrasion resistance. Level II of the standard adds in the certified moisture barrier for blood-borne pathogen protection, but also provides protection against many other liquids such as the bodily fluids frequently experienced on EMS and rescue operations, liquids from various types of rescue and extrication operations, as well as protection from weather related moisture such as rain, sleet, and snow. Level III is for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection and does not apply in this example. 

Some PPE manufacturers choose to dual-certify USAR/Tech Rescue garments to NFPA 1951 Level I and NFPA 1977. This pairs together the lowest level of the Technical Rescue standard with the Wildland standard, both of which require only an outer shell garment with minimal protection, usually only light flame/fire resistance. Ricochet focuses on 1951 Level II and 1999 giving you the greatest amount of protection for the greatest amount of potential emergency responses.

Ricochet’s USAR/Technical Rescue PPE is primarily manufactured with either a 6oz NOMEX IIIA or a Springfield Westex DH 7.5oz outer shell, which offers the flame and abrasion resistance for the garment. The GORE S/R CROSSTECH certified moisture barrier is what provides the protection against blood-borne pathogens, liquids, chemicals, and moisture. 

When these standards are paired together through official certification, a garment is produced that is tough, protective, weatherproof, comfortable, flexible, and can handle nearly any response that you may encounter, other than a structure fire and/or interior firefighting operations. 

The Ricochet Out Front package was designed to bring not only all of these protective materials together in patters that are comfortable to wear, but also introduces many of the most popular features that are often requested on USAR/Tech Rescue gear, all included in a bundled package. Some of these features include various styles and colors of trim, semi-bellows pockets, popular closures, radio pockets, hook & loop cuffs, adjustable waist tabs, leg zippers, and seat reinforcements. This creates a set of highly protective, versatile, comfortable set of gear that is still custom sized for each responder, and can be used for virtually any call that does not require interior firefighting operations, or the use of an SCBA for structural firefighting.

Investing in different PPE for specific incidents helps avoid wear and tear on structural firefighting turnout gear in non-firefighting incidents. Petroleum products from an accident scene on PPE, if it is not washed and laundered properly, go with firefighters into a structure fire. Cuts, tears, and abrasions from working on a vehicle extrication can leave a gap in that protective ensemble. You are also not subjecting yourself to higher thermal body temperatures when it is not necessary.

Personal protective equipment is evolving, becoming lighter, stronger, and safer for diverse types of incidents. It makes perfect sense to begin considering and specifying PPE for specific incidents as part of your department’s ongoing efforts to help personnel work safer and smarter.