Firefighters at Copenhagen Airport Fire Service are the first in Denmark to benefit from the highest levels of protection from fire, blood pathogens, chemicals and particulates after choosing new gear from VIKING that incorporates GORE-TEX Moisture Barrier with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology GORE® PARALLON® System 500.
Copenhagen Airport Fire Service protects the busiest airport in Scandinavia, with 22,800 airport employees and over 30 million passengers passing through each year on 266,000 flights.
The fire service has a staff 75 and operates in four teams who work 24-hour shifts with a complement of 14 operational firefighters in each shift. They split up to deploy from two airside fire stations, with seven firefighters based at each during the shift. The two locations on either side of the airport ensure that the three minute airport emergency response standard is always met.
The airport team are well equipped to tackle whatever incident they are tasked to and can respond with four foam trucks which carry up to 12,000 litres of water and 12,000 litres of foam, as well as an incident response vehicle, water rescue support vehicle and incident commander’s response car.
All the firefighters are medically trained as first responders, with additional training in sea rescue. The airport is surrounded by sea on two sides, so the team has to train for the possibility of an emergency landing in water. They are equipped with two rescue boats and also respond to over 20 water rescues throughout the year to help members of the public who may be in difficulty at sea.
Rene Holm is Incident Commander on shift 4 with operational responsibility for both stations.
Our teams are trained to the highest professional standards and respond to a broad range of over 2,400 incidents every year. As well as the specialist aviation knowledge and skills required for airport operations, they are unique in having water and sea rescue skills which regularly save lives in the sea around the airport,” he said. “A large number of airlines divert to Copenhagen airport in potential emergencies because of the quality and skills of our response teams and the extensive repair and maintenance facilities at the airport. Our firefighters are dealing with a unique set of hazards and risks so it’s essential that they have the best protection available to help them focus on the tasks at hand. They recognise the quality of design and performance with the new firefighting gear and the response has been really positive from everyone.
Firefighters at Copenhagen Airport are now protected by the new PARTX™ firefighting suits, designed and manufactured by VIKING, using the very latest in protective clothing technology. The suit is specifically designed to reduce exposure to particulates.
The new garments incorporate the revolutionary GORE-TEX Moisture Barrier with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology GORE® PARALLON® System 500, which has been developed to specifically to reduce the risk of burn injuries and heat stress in wet and dry conditions. It gives consistent thermal protection for firefighters combined with high levels of comfort and breathability.
This is a unique use of two membranes encapsulating a layer of thermal protection that maintains breathability while wicking moisture away from the skin and out through the suit, simultaneously preventing liquid penetration from the outside. Internal moisture is efficiently moved through the layers, keeping the thermal protective fabric dry and reducing the risk of steam or wet compression burns. Breathability is high, reducing the risk of heat stress and keeping the wearer cooler for longer.
When a fire suit becomes wet inside, whether from water or heavy sweating, protection levels normally drop decreasing time to burn and reducing time for escape. In tests undertaken in wet conditions, the GORE-TEX Moisture Barrier with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology GORE® PARALLON® System 500 consistently maintained thermal protection, allowing more time to escape and reducing the risk of burns.
GORE-TEX Moisture Barriers with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology are tested in accordance with ISO 16604 procedure C, which tests the laminate and seams for resistance to blood borne pathogens and achieve 100% pass rates.
All GORE-TEX Moisture Barriers with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology offer particulate blocking performance against fireground particulates. The NFPA 1971 2018 Edition standard recognises the importance of testing particle penetration. It has introduced a system level test to evaluate an ensemble design as well as a particulate blocking test used to evaluate particulate blocking layers in an optional particulate blocking hood.
The modified ASTM2299 testing, which was introduced to test firefighter hoods, uses a particle size from 0.1μm to 1.0μm to assess the efficiency of the particle blocking layer. It requires a minimum 90% performance to pass the test. When tested, the GORE-TEX Moisture Barrier with GORE® CROSSTECH® Product Technology achieved 99.9% blocking efficiency when evaluated using the particulate blocking test.
Protection from particulates was a significant driver behind the choice of protective firefighting gear. Union shop steward, Brian Bjørnø, had a key role in the development of the new gear.
I attended a conference in Helsinki on firefighter safety where the risks to firefighters from exposure to smoke particulates was highlighted,
Our priority is always to extend the life of our firefighters, not the suit, keeping them safe from all of the risks that they may face.
When we became aware of the research that shows high risks caused by particulates for firefighters, we started working with VIKING to develop new gear that would prioritise particulate protection while obviously maintaining required levels of protection from heat and flame.
We set up a working group and collaborated closely with BFC (Brandfolkenes Cancerforening) and VIKING to develop a suit that would meet all of our specific needs, addressing recommendations about cancer protection. The result is a unique suit deigned by the group to our own airport operations specification and incorporating a number of features to protect specifically from particulates. Specially designed cuffs on wrist and boot closures prevent particles from entering. The use of red hi-visibility reflective strips is exclusive to airport firefighters so that we can identify each other easily at incidents and stand out from other teams who may be involved in the incident. The reflective strips are not applied with stitching, which moves the risk of build up of particles and other contaminants on the suits.
The Gore Moisture Barrier plays an important role in maintaining those high standards of protection while at the same time keeping firefighter dry and cool when they are working. The suits have been in operational use for a few months now and the feedback has been extremely positive from the team. They immediately noticed how quickly the suits dry compared to the previous garments and it breathes better when they are working on tasks.
Crew Chief, Rasmus Nielsen, added:
We really like the new gear. You can feel the high level of protection when fighting a fire and the breathability when working is very good, which improves comfort for us and helps us to work safely for longer if necessary.
The team at Copenhagen Airport Fire Service are now protected by the most advanced garment technology available today, mitigating the risks involved in all of the many and varied operational situations that they are trained to tackle.
Copenhagen airport fire services
2019 Copenhagen Airport has once again been voted the most efficient airport in Europe. This has now happened on 14 out of 16 occasions. The independent Air Transport Research Society (ATRS), heads the selection process in which Copenhagen Airport won the title for airports with more than 25 to 40 million passengers.
VIKING works in close cooperation with leading industry suppliers of the fabrics and garments needed for making truly excellent fire suits. VIKING’s innovative design allows firefighters to conserve energy and concentrate fully on the business of saving lives.