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How Truly Certified Is Your Rescue Helmet?

Do you really know what your personnel are wearing?

Certification and testing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has often been described as a ‘dark art’ and full of grey areas. Acceptance of this view, and in numerous cases - perpetuation by manufacturers has for many years meant that vague, inaccurate and often spurious claims by PPE suppliers have been missed, or sometimes even tolerated by Fire & Rescue Services and other professional users.

Thankfully, due to the increasingly high stakes nature of massive procurement exercises, such as the current Scottish PPE Tender and the SE Collaborative PPE Procurement; those responsible for verifying manufacturers’ claims are becoming more probing and expert in their questioning and insistence of evidence of independent verification of certification. However stringent the procurement process is, buyers and specifiers cannot be expected to be expert in every aspect of PPE certification; they remain reliant on manufacturers’ accuracy and honesty.

Outside of the formal tender process, inaccurate claims to conformity can more easily be missed since such procurements are open to less scrutiny and rigour. Buyers with responsibility for procurement of PPE should therefore be absolutely sure they know what they are buying and be certain that products chosen as safety wear are fully compliant with the appropriate norms and standards.

Confusing Claims

PPE Products that are particularly vulnerable to misleading certification claims are those that have a multitude of applications or uses. PPE, by its nature is bound to be the ‘last line of defence’ in many different environments. A good example of this is a non-structural rescue helmet; a product described in its EN Norm – EN 16473 – as ‘Firefighters Helmets – Helmets for Technical Rescue’. This type of helmet is being increasingly used for almost every non-structural fire activity. There is an inevitable desire for fire and rescue services to consolidate equipment by specifying a single helmet for all non-structural fire activities.

A Helmet for all Applications

The Holy Grail for users and helmet manufacturers alike is a product suitable for all rescue operations from water rescue, through to USAR and vehicle extrication, safety at height and for use during specialist operations such and climbing and abseil work.

Up to now, this has not been possible. Designers have struggled to develop one helmet which not only seeks to protect the user in a multitude of environments but can also be independently verified and certified to a number of EN Norms.

The Pacific R6DX from Vimpex solves this problem. Approved for Technical Rescue, At Height Work, and Water Rescue (pending), the R6DX is a true all-round helmet suitable for every non-structural fire application. Independently tested and certified to all of the following standards, the R6DX has already been procured by Greater Manchester FRS and is currently on trial by several other UK FRSs:


R6DX Certification

· EN 16473 – Technical Rescue – Vehicle Extrication, Animal Rescue, Confined Space Work

· EN 12492 – Working at Height – Safety at Height, Aerial Platforms, Abseiling

· PAS 028 (Pending) – Water and Flood Rescue

The R6DX is therefore the ideal helmet for all non-fire operations.

Lightweight, Comfortable, Compact and Cost-Saving

The R6DX is manufactured using Kevlar reinforced composite. Such materials have a very high strength to weight ratio. The centre of balance of the R6DX is superior to all other rescue helmets meaning the wearer can concentrate on the job in hand rather than neck ache.

The R6DX is resistant to all chemicals and UV light. This makes them longer-lasting and suitable for the most aggressive environments including Hazardous Areas. The compact design of the R6DX means that it fits well under gas tight hazmat suits. The helmet is also supplied with fittings to allow for options such as certified full face visor, eye guards and helmet torches.

Cost-Saving

Now that a truly fully certified all-round rescue helmet is available, FRSs and other professional rescue organisations should reconsider their PPE provision to include rescue helmets for all non-structural fire use. There’s a strong argument to reduce the number of structural fire helmets in use to vehicle-only issue and to provide all personnel with high quality rescue helmets. Such helmets can be around half the cost of structural fire helmets. Since the majority of a firefighters work is non-structural fire activity, why not make your personnel more comfortable whilst making a significant saving on firefighter PPE?

If the use of technical rescue helmets is going to increase, then it is all the more vital that the correct due diligence is done on the claims of the helmet supplier to be sure that you really know what you are buying. If you want to discuss your requirements or would like to trial a new R6DX, please contact Vimpex at sales@vimpex.co.uk or call and speak with one of our PPE specialists on 01702 216999.

Apr 2017

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