New fire kit improves safety and comfort of firefighters

Wed 26 Sep, 2018

Pictured: The full ensemble (centre), the old kit (right) and the lightweight rescue jacket (left)

You might notice something different about Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s firefighters next time you see one. After years of being dressed predominantly in blue, their new fire kit is gold-coloured.

Firefighters wore their old kit for the last time on last night’s (25 September) night shift, with the changeover taking place at 9am today.

Group Commander Simon Tuffley said: “There’s much more to this than a simple change of colour. The latest generation of fire kit, or personal protective equipment or PPE as we call it, improves the safety and comfort of our firefighters at emergencies. Having high-performing fire kit is just as important as having good fire engines, breathing apparatus and rescue tools.”

“For example, the lighter colour gives firefighters a better indication of how clean their PPE is - just one measure we are taking to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminants produced in fires. 

“Firefighters are often at the scene of an incident for many hours, and it is important that they are well protected and comfortable. 

“With the introduction of new lightweight and highly visible rescue jacket option, firefighters now have more choice regarding the level of PPE they can wear at incidents. This creates significant benefit in terms of improving the comfort and visibility of our firefighters.”

When travelling to an emergency, the Incident Commander will decide the appropriate level of PPE to wear based upon a risk assessment. For example, he or she may choose their crew to adopt the rescue jacket when called to a road traffic collision, saving the heavier gold-coloured jacket for incidents where a higher degree of thermal protection is required.

The move to a fully managed service was approved last year by Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, which has been involved in a national collaborative procurement project for PPE since 2016. This is a significant investment in firefighter safety and collaborative procurement, achieving long-term financial savings for the organisation.

The new contract, with Bristol Uniforms, will cost £235,000 a year. Unlike the previous contract, which was a purchase-only contract, the new one is a fully managed, “total care” arrangement, meaning that it includes cleaning, maintenance and repair over the life of the contract.