This month, leading firefighter PPE manufacturer Bristol Uniforms, is highlighting the importance of selecting garments with the right certification when purchasing PPE.
All Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) around the world have a duty of care to their employees and must provide PPE that protects them whilst on the job. Whether buying PPE at home or abroad, there are a number of international standards in place to provide reassurance that equipment meets appropriate global standards. All genuine suppliers will adhere to some or all of these standards, and compliance can be checked before purchase. By insisting that any equipment purchased meets these standards, FRSs can be assured that at the very least the minimum safety requirements will be met, and that the quality will be satisfactory.
Since there are a number of standard-setting bodies on the world stage, as well as National Standards Bodies (NSBs) for individual countries, it is important for FRSs to decide which certification is most relevant to them, so that they can ensure the PPE they purchase meets the most appropriate standards.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) covers the USA, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region. The standard NFPA1971:2018 protects firefighting personnel by establishing minimum levels of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and blood-borne hazards encountered during structural and proximity firefighting operations. Its requirements apply to the design, performance, testing, and certification for structural firefighting.
The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) covers Europe. In 1995, EN469 became the first PPE standard to cover all countries in the European Union, serving to strengthen overall product safety and quality, and to encourage the sharing and adoption of good practices. EN469:2005 is currently under revision.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) sets standards worldwide. The latest standard, ISO 11613:2017, is entitled ‘Protective clothing for firefighters who are engaged in support activities associated with structural firefighting – laboratory test methods and performance.’
Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand work together to create standards for their countries. AS/NZS 4967:2009 was originally based on ISO 11613:1999 but extensively re-written to suit Australian and New Zealand conditions.
To facilitate sales and purchasing around the world, many of these national and international standards are drafted and developed in line with each other. Wherever possible, CEN, NFPA, ISO, AS/NZS and many NSBs work closely together to replicate requirements. This makes adhering to standards much easier and helps to promote global best practice.
In order to meet the various sets of standards, all manufacturers must undergo regular surveillance visits and assessments by the appropriate regulators. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) undertake four unannounced surveillance visits to each manufacturer every year, and all fabrics and components are annually assessed for continued compliance to the standard. At Bristol Uniforms, to comply with European Economic Community (EEC) Directives, our CEN certified PPE is also quality monitored throughout the production process, under Regulation (EU) 2016/425 which is particularly rigorous in its requirements for certification, labelling and record-keeping by manufacturers and distributors. To sell to Australia and New Zealand, we also have an additional annual surveillance visit.
With all of these stringent standards and regulations in place, FRS procurement teams can be reassured that with the right certifications, firefighter PPE should be safe and fit for purpose, wherever it is used in the world.
For more information please visit: www.bristoluniforms.com