Fire Fighters Unveil Next Generation of Gear at FDIC

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the labor union for professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel across the U.S. and Canada, demonstrated a prototype of the next-generation of fire fighting gear as part of its "Project HEROES" (Homeland Emergency Response Operational and Equipment Systems) initiative on April 14during the Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Ind.

Funded by a federal government contract from the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) with funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the IAFF project team consists of leading fire service organizations and academia that have been tasked to rapidly develop, prototype and field test structural fire fighting personal protective equipment with enhanced chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protective qualities to account for today's new threats. Fire fighters currently do not wear structural fire fighting PPE that can protect them in an environment where there has been a release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents.

"Fire Departments do not have the resources to provide multiple garments for each responder, so one multi-purpose suit offers the best protection for fire fighters against any hazard," says Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. "The Project HEROES prototype will be revolutionary because it will offer the highest level of protection without the burden of extra weight, loss of mobility and added stress, so our fire fighters can do their job."

The IAFF project team also includes the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); Total Fire Group/Morning Pride Manufacturing, a leading fire service ensemble manufacturer; the National Personal Protection Technology Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); International Personnel Protection; and two academic partners – the University of Massachusetts and the University of Arkansas.

Field assessments at major metropolitan fire departments will take place in spring 2005 for evaluating the new technology.

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