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Dual purpose clothing – for road and fireground
Published:  20 November, 2012

Bristol has designed ground breaking firefighter PPE for use by members of fire crews using motorcycles to gain rapid access to fires in congested or remote locations where normal fire response vehicles would have difficulty gaining access.

Motorcycles are being increasingly used to provide fast access by emergency responders in the UK and in a number of countries in Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as Central and South America, including Mexico.

In what is believed to be a first, Bristol Uniforms has designed protective clothing which not only meets the road safety requirements for professional motorcyclists but also the highest European level for structural firefighting. The new coat and trouser combination is a product of Bristol’s New Product Development Programme (BNPDP) and is one of a number of innovative products currently in the pipeline. The motorcycle dual purpose PPE has been fully tested and will be available from this autumn. It will be on show to potential UK emergency services users at this year’s Emergency Services Show in November.

Bristol’s Motorcycle Suit meets four separate European Standards, three of which relate specifically motorcyclist protective clothing and one to firefighter protection. They are;

  • Protective Clothing for Professional Motorcycle Riders BS EN13595-1:2002 Level 2.
  • Motorcyclists Protective Clothing Against Mechanical Impact Part 1: Requirements and Test Methods for Impact Protectors BS EN1621-1:1998.
  • Motorcyclists Protective Clothing Against Mechanical Impact Part 2: Motorcyclists Back Protectors – Requirements and Test Methods BS EN 1621-1:2003.
  • Protective Clothing for Firefighters – Performance Requirements for Protective Clothing for Firefighting BS EN 469: 2005 Level 2

The coat and trouser have been ergonomically designed to ensure ultimate fit, suitable for riding motorcycles and firefighting duties. They are designed to be zipped together and are available in 28 sizes, both male and female. The ensemble is machine washable after the back, shoulder, elbow, hip and knee protectors have been removed.

Examination of motorcycle clothing which has been damaged in accidents has shown that the risk of impact and abrasion hazards varies across the surface of the garment, which has been instrumental in developing the BS EN13595-1:2002 Standard. Within the Standard, Annex C provides for different levels of protection for different zones (areas) of the garment. This has influenced the design of the suit which comprises four layers;

  • Layer 1 Outer fabric which has excellent tensile, tear and abrasion qualities.
  • Layer 2 Moisture Barrier – GORE-TEX Fireblocker.
  • Layer 3 Thermal protective fabric which also provides excellent abrasion resistance.
  • Layer 4 Aramid/Viscose lining.

The different levels of protection in each zone are achieved by varying the layer composition at critical points in the garments. There are four protection zones which correlate with the zone risks as below;

  • Zone 1: High risk of impact
  • Zone 2: High risk of abrasion
  • Zone 3: Moderate risk of abrasion
  • Zone 4: Low risk of abrasion

Bristol’s joint Managing Director, Roger Startin, explained the thinking behind this latest new product. “The emergency services are regularly looking for ways to improve their response capabilities and, in an increasingly congested world, rapid ground access to emergency locations is becoming ever more problematic. Suitably equipped motorcycles can, and already do, in some situations fulfil this need. However, combining the protective qualities required by two very different activities has proved a real challenge. I’m delighted, however, that we have not only achieved this in our new motorcycle emergency response kit, but have also been able to provide a level of comfort which would not have been possible without our XFlex design platform to build it on. We foresee a growing international market for this flexible and adaptable protective garment.”