New coverall gas tight suits have been launched by the London Fire Brigade to help improve how crews respond at incidents involving hazardous materials and terrorism.
The chemical protective clothing enables firefighters to go into areas that their normal firefighting protective equipment would not protect them from due to the risk of being exposed to potentially poisonous substances and could be used in the event of a terrorist chemical attack.
They can also be used at any incident where it is believed there has been a leak of a dangerous substances such as ammonia leaks from fridges and acid spills.
The new suits are lighter, giving better mobility and dexterity, and make it easier to move and operate equipment.
They have integrated inner gloves and separate boots, which maintain high levels of protection and are worn in addition to normal protective equipment and breathing apparatus worn by firefighters.
In addition to the gas tight suits, liquid tight suits are also being rolled out. These will be worn by specially trained firefighters to help decontaminate gas tight suit wearers who have just left a contaminated area – also known as the ‘hot zone’.
Assistant Commissioner of Operational Policy, Richard Mills, said: “Modern firefighting is about much more than just responding to fires, our crews now regularly deal with a variety of complex incidents and rescues and that includes chemical spills and regular training to respond to terrorism.
“We frequently refresh and review our equipment and training to ensure that our crews’ skills and abilities flexes in tandem with London’s needs”
Unlike its predecessors, the suits are also more environmentally friendly and can be disposed of sustainably, which significantly reduces their carbon footprint.
Some of the old suits have been donated to May Day Rescue, a voluntary group that helps distribute emergency equipment to countries and communities that are entering, enduring, or emerging from conflict or natural disasters, such as Syria. Work is on-going for the disposal of the remaining suits.