PPE from FDIC: FireRescue tech editors make their top picks

Mike Kirby's Picks

Honeywell/Morning Pride Helmet Ratchet Headband
What seems to be an issue for many fire service personnel and departments is finding a helmet that fits everyone properly. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their heads, which means for some, helmets can be uncomfortable or ride too high.

In our fire department, we have to provide helmets to more than 800 firefighters.

To address this challenge, Morning Pride has developed a helmet headband that offers an eight-point suspension system and a wide interior to provide better comfort and a lower center of gravity, which reduces neck strain and gives the helmet a better fit.

Another great feature: The ratchet headband can adjust to multiple head sizes, from 6 to over 9, and it can adjust helmet depth by as much as one inch between the front and rear, making it possible to fit the smallest or the biggest head. So if you’re having trouble fitting and sizing a helmet to an individual, the Morning Pride helmet line with the newest suspension and ratchet system is definitely worth a look.

1 Innovation Ct.
Dayton, OH 45414

Scott Safety’s RIT-PAK III
While looking around the exhibit hall, I noticed from a distance what appeared to be a durable and user-friendly RIT pack. From that first look, it was obvious that this system was designed after the manufacturer received input from firefighters and after it had been used in real-life rescue scenarios. The entire system is housed in a high-visibility pack with a bottom-rigid skid plate to allow for easy dragging and moving on the ground.


The pack’s multiple grab points, straps and pocket openings are easily accessible and useable with a gloved hand, and it’s equipped with ample storage for standard RIT gear and ropes.

Another awesome feature of the RIT pack: the external pressure gauge with heads-up display (HUD) lights to allow rescue crews to monitor the air supply of the pack during operations.

Honeywell/Morning Pride Helmet Ratchet Headband.


Scott Safety’s RIT-PAK III

The system’s design allows for universal use in mutual-aid situations, regardless of the SCBA used by the other fire departments. The pack’s weight of 20 lbs. without the cylinder is very manageable. Overall, the system appears to have been designed by firefighters, which makes it definitely worth a look if you need a product that can aid in your RIT operations’ success.

Scott Safety by Tyco
4320 Goldmine Road
Monroe, NC 28110

PBI Products BaseGuard
Throughout my years in the fire service, I’ve noticed many firefighters wearing various fabrics for moisture control and layering; however, many of these fabrics have no heat or flame protection ability and could very well “shrink-wrap” a firefighter. Although some of these garments are of the sporting goods store variety, making them geared toward more rugged activity, they don’t usually offer any protection from extreme heat conditions or provide any moisture control. In short, they don’t address firefighters’ needs.

PBI Products does address firefighter’s needs with its new Baseguard base layer garment, which was originally designed for the military. This garment provides heat and flash-fire protection, while also providing comfort and moisture management. Its lightweight fabric not only wicks moistures away from your body, it also minimizes heat stress and meets or exceeds all NFPA standards requirements.

If you’re interested in providing lightweight, flame-resistant undergarments to your troops, this garment is worth evaluating.

PBI Products
9800 Southern Pine Blvd., Suite D
Charlotte, NC 28273

Mike Kirby is a captain with the Cincinnati Fire Department, assigned to Engine Company 12. He is a 17-year veteran of the fire service with experience in paid and volunteer fire departments.

Greg Jakubowski's picks:

TECGENXTREME Fire/Rescue Clothing
We constantly struggle with the challenge of finding gear that properly protects us against as many things as possible, yet is also lightweight and doesn’t make us too hot or restrict our mobility. My firefighters had this problem at the two-hour truck rescue we performed near the bottom of a large working quarry in July 2009.

Since then, we’ve been looking around for something that we could wear at rescue events where fire isn’t necessarily an issue.


PBI Products BaseGuard base layer garment.

TECGEN has come up with a product that fits this bill. Their TECGENXTREME clothing is available in a two-piece coat and pant set and a one-piece coverall. The clothing is comfortable and lightweight, and the manufacturer indicates that it’s compliant with NFPA standards for both technical rescue and wildland firefighting, which is a nice plus. Both the coat/pants and the coveralls came with a number of large pockets and appear to be quite durable. With warmer weather on the way, this may just be the item you need.

3441 Pelham Rd., Ste 101
Greenville, SC 29615

W.L. Gore/CROSSTECH Black Moisture Barrier
It seems almost impossible to find fire/rescue gloves, coats and pants that allow sweat/moisture to escape, yet keep you dry from rain, water from hoselines and other liquids that might be present in your work area; however, this issue is something that W.L. Gore and Associates Inc. works hard to address. While at FDIC this year, I had the chance to take a look at their CROSSTECH black moisture barrier. The folks from Gore had me put a standard plastic bag (or “glove”) on one hand, and a bag/glove made of their new moisture barrier material on the other hand. Before I donned the “gloves,” they sprayed water onto both hands to simulate sweat and then took me through several tests. The hand covered in the standard plastic bag continued to feel moist (sweaty), while the hand with the moisture barrier actually got dry. This even occurred when I immersed my hands in a container of cold water. No water entered into either “glove,” but the hand with the moisture barrier on it actually seemed to get drier, even under water!

You have the opportunity to choose which moisture barrier you get with your turnout gear, so you may want to take a bit of time to look at the choices available to you. Keep in mind, Gore doesn’t make turnouts, but they make the moisture barrier components that go into the gear you purchase.

You can purchase either two- or three-layer barriers. The more layers, the better the protection, but the bulkier the gear. Some barriers provide additional protection against blood/body fluids and even some common chemicals. They also come with various
warranty periods, but of course, the more protection and the longer the warranty, the greater the cost.

Fire departments today need to take a closer look at what they want their gear to do, and determine how their gear can do what they need it to do while also staying on budget. If done right, you’ll select the right components so that your finished product meets all your needs.

W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
105 Vieve’s Way
Elkton, MD 21921

Greg Jakubowski is a fire protection engineer and certified safety professional with 32 years of fire-service experience. He is a Pennsylvania State Fire Instructor, serves as chief of the Lingohocken Fire Company in Bucks County, Pa., and is a member of the IAFC. Greg is also a principal in Fire Planning Associates, a company dedicated to helping fire departments, municipalities and businesses with pre-emergency planning.

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