Autumn 2015

‘I can now stand the heat better and for longer’

In the spring of 2015 the fire brigades in the region of Twente received brand new uniforms. During the tendering process John Schell, head of the on-call firefighters at the Twente Fire Brigade, took part in the wearing trials of five selected uniforms. The system based on the TenCate MilleniaTM fabric came out on top. ‘For me a safe and comfortable firefighting uniform is the precondition for carrying out my work well.’ 

When the Twente Safety Region purchased 1,028 new firefighting uniforms for its brigades in 2014 this obviously did not just happen overnight. Before the start of the European tendering process it had firefighting clothing brought in from all over the country, which was evaluated by a test team of users. On the basis of their evaluations a list of needs and requirements was compiled, which was then incorporated into the specifications for the tender. Twente then carried out extensive wearing trials on five of the selected uniforms. ‘The firefighting uniform from producer LHD Group, with TenCate protective fabric, really stood out, John Schell told us. ‘It’s smooth on the inside and that’s what makes it so quick and easy to put on. It’s also noticeably lighter and more flexible than our old uniform. The jacket is somewhat longer and the uniform consists of two parts, so it doesn’t stretch unduly when you bend your knees. In other words, it’s extremely comfortable.’

protective firefighter john schell
John Schell

In addition to wearing comfort, the wearing trials focused in particular on the heat resistance and breathability (the retention - or RET value) of the uniforms. ‘It was these qualities that really showed us how remarkable this innovative TenCate fabric is’, John explains. ‘The uniform really kept the heat out noticeably better than its competitors.’ 

During the test in a converted shipping container to test fire behaviour the assessors looked at how long someone could carry on functioning well in the heat. ‘You have to protect the uniform from the heat from the outside, but due to the nature of the work, the temperature ínside the uniform also increases rapidly. If you can’t get rid of the heat, it can build up and possibly cause a fatal heatstroke. The importance of having a good breathable uniform can thus not be overestimated.’ 

Crucial minutes

When that important RET value, the breathability of the fabric, was put to the test, the high-tech materials from TenCate proved to be the best. John Schell emphasises that a low RET value is not only essential for the health and safety of the firefighters, but also for their performance. ‘Wearing a uniform like this, you can carry on working for longer and thus get much more done. You can rescue the people who need to be rescued and extinguish the fire. We’re talking about minutes, but that couple of minutes longer that you can work, can make all the difference between life and death.’

Blue fabric (Tecawork Blue 65287)