A leading UK firefighter PPE manufacturer has revealed the success of a series of trials of its recently launched structural firefighter garments. Ballyclare’s Xenon firefighter suit featuring the GORE® PARALLON™ System has been subjected to a series of rigorous trials by both Gore and Ballyclare, and the results have been extremely positive.
“We have a strong partnership with W.L. Gore and Associates who are renowned for their GORE-TEX® Fabrics, and we worked together to create a series of Xenon garments that feature their GORE® PARALLON™ System,” comments Ballyclare’s Fire & Technical Director, Richard Ballheimer. When we launched the Xenon range in both male and female fits late last year, the market’s reaction confirmed that we had genuinely raised the bar for firefighter protective clothing. That view has been further confirmed by the most recent testing.”
The two companies have created the technologically advanced Xenon – GORE® PARALLON™ System firefighter garments, which offer outstanding levels of comfort, wearability and protection. “They represent a real revolution rather than an evolution,” continues Richard. “We closed the door on the old existing technologies, and instead we adopted a brand-new approach to creating multi-layered, multi-functional structural firefighting clothing. One of the key Xenon advantages is the outstanding level of wearer comfort, and this is where the GORE® PARALLON™ System has played a major part helping the garments perform so well in trials.”
The GORE® PARALLON™ System is lightweight, breathable and waterproof and delivers very high levels of thermal protection to the wearer. Using a double membrane configuration, it reduces the risk of burn injuries and heat stress in wet and dry conditions, creating consistent protection without compromising comfort. As the leading supplier of firefighter membrane technology, the GORE® PARALLON™ System from Gore represents the very best protection available through in to the 2020s and beyond.
While modern firefighter PPE provides excellent thermal protection against heat and flame, wearers have still been at risk from steam burns that can occur when wearing wet gear in sub-flashover conditions. These are caused by a build-up of thermal energy and moisture inside the layers of a garment that can cause the burns in a sub -flashover, or by compression due to crouching, kneeling or breathing apparatus harness straps. The GORE® PARALLON™ System has been developed to specifically combat these risks by introducing a highly breathable Gore thermal barrier, combined with a GORE-TEX® or CROSSTECH® Moisture barrier.
The unique use of two membranes encapsulates a layer of thermal protection that maintains breathability, while wicking moisture away from the skin and out through the suit, and simultaneously preventing liquid penetration from the outside.
“When a fire suit becomes wet inside, whether from water or heavy sweating, protection levels normally drop by 45%, with decreased time to burn and less time for escape,” adds Richard. “In tests undertaken in wet conditions, the GORE® PARALLON™ System consistently maintained thermal protection, allowing more time to escape and reducing the risk of burns.
“During trials we noticed how much drier the inside of the Xenon GORE® PARALLON™ System suits were, and we confirmed that they dry 20% faster than traditional alternatives. Wearers have praised the Xenon GORE® PARALLON™ System combination for its comfort, and freedom of movement. People also remarked on how slow the heat build-up was, and how quickly they cooled down when they moved away from the heat source.”
This is due to the way that any internal moisture is efficiently moved out through the layers, keeping the thermal protective fabric dry and reducing the risk of steam or wet compression burns. Comfort and breathability is high, reducing the risk of heat stress and keeping the wearer cooler for longer. In a series of tests comparing other fabrics, the GORE® PARALLON™ System delivered the highest protection from radiant and convective heat, with up to 65% more breathability.
“The high degree of comfort that the system offers to the wearer is absolutely characteristic of our Xenon range,” concludes Richard. “Apart from creating outstanding protection, we directed considerable effort at creating garments that also provided a high degree of free movement in both male and female styles.
“We drew on our many years of experience in clothing design and also consulted very closely with end users. We designed the Xenon garments specifically to reduce any areas of bulk and weight, and then selected the best fabrics available to bring them to life. The result is a suit that provides optimal fit for both male and female wearers, taking into account the specific requirements of both genders.
“We firmly believe the Xenon range is set to revolutionise the fire PPE market for many years to come.”