Data consistently shows that the fireground is where most firefighter injuries occur. Strains, falls, struck by an object, and exposure to fire products all highlight the importance of properly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets and exceeds standards for your safety.
From 2007 to 2011, 52% of all moderate or severe injuries took place on the fireground during the extinguishing of a fire. 41% of those took place while handling hoselines. Another 25% of moderate or severe injuries occurred during work to support extinguishing a fire, such as forcible entry and ventilation. Wounds, cuts, bruising, smoke inhalation, and thermal stress account for many major fireground injuries. Even though the total number of injuries has been trending downward, data from 2020 shows that the fireground is still the location where the most injuries occur.
Having quality PPE and wearing that PPE properly plays a significant role in reducing injuries. Ricochet manufactures all its PPE to meet and exceed NFPA 1999, 1951 and 1971 standards. Ricochet PPE also is put to numerous tests to guarantee durability and effectiveness of the barriers to liquid and liquid-borne pathogen penetration. Ricochet relies on GORE® CROSSTECH® fabrics to meet the garment material requirements of these NFPA standards. These ensure that Ricochet’s PPE provides protection against flame, heat, water, body fluids, and chemicals.
Burn injuries have always received scrutiny over the years and one of the common types experienced is compression burns. Ricochet structural firefighting PPE goes through a Conductive and Compressive Heat Resistance (CCHR) test for protective insulation required in high compression areas. The CCHR rating of shoulder and knee areas, when compressed, must equal the established base garment rating. This is to ensure that the shoulder and knee areas will provide the same level of protection when compressed, as does the remainder of the garment. The test is run in both wet and dry conditions. This rating is the time in seconds to achieve a temperature rise of 24° C. The minimum requirement is 25 seconds under a pressure of 1/2 lb. per square inch. The shoulder area is tested under 2 lbs. psi, which simulates a firefighter wearing SCBA. The knee area is tested under 8 lbs. psi, which simulates a 180 lb. firefighter when in a kneeling position.
Ricochet’s standard practice automatically adds a second layer of thermal liner in these high compression areas to ensure it exceeds the minimum requirements. Ricochet also offers a variety of options for the shoulder and knee reinforcement area that will exceed the CCHR requirements while offering higher THL (Total Heat Loss) and TPP (Thermal Protection Performance) in these critical areas.
Proper fit and use of your PPE is key to reducing fireground injuries. No development of strategy, tactics and culture change can ever reduce the inherent risk of injury or death on the fireground but PPE that is made of quality construction and passes stringent testing helps minimize the impact of injuries. It is your responsibility to wear all your PPE and wear it properly to get the most benefit from the manufacturer.
1 National Fire Protection Association 2015, Firefighter Injuries and Fireground Operations, viewed March 2022
2 National Fire Protection Association December 2021, United States Firefighter Injuries in 2020, viewed March 2022 https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Emergency-responders/osffinjuries.pdf