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Bristol Uniforms in the Gulf

by Greg Preston
Bristol Uniforms in the Gulf

Last week saw thousands of people attend Intersec, one of the world’s largest security, safety and fire protection trade shows, held in the heart of the Gulf in Dubai. Here, International Sales Manager Paul Gibson looks back on more than 40 years of supplying world-class firefighting PPE in the region.

Bristol Uniforms is a company with a rich history. We began making specialist firefighter PPE in the 1960’s, firstly for firefighters in the UK, but later for fire brigades across the world. Bristol’s international success is largely thanks to our strong network of over 70 international distributors, who share our commitment to the provision of high-quality firefighting PPE.

We have been supplying firefighter PPE to United Arab Emirates (UAE) for over 40 years. Concorde Trading Company in Abu Dhabi, became our first overseas distributor in 1974. By this time, Bristol had considerable expertise in developing garments to protect firefighters, working with the Home Office in the UK to create kit that would help keep firefighters safe.

The first order was taken in late 1975 for Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, which provides commercial and domestic fire and rescue services for the emirate, who continue to procure their PPE from us today. The partnership with Concorde has since gone from strength to strength, and paved the way for a long-standing and prominent presence for Bristol across the Gulf region.

Concorde Trading Company is now part of the Concorde-Corodex Group and has evolved to become a pioneering provider of fire protection, water purification, wastewater treatment and environmental services in the Middle East, offering a diverse portfolio of products and services.

Today, in addition to supplying the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, we also supply PPE to a variety of customers including industry firefighters working for oil, gas and petrochemical companies.

Another distributor in Qatar that has had a significant impact on our presence in the region over almost four decades is the International Gulf Trading Company (IGTC). IGTC is Qatar’s leading fire safety equipment and security solutions provider. Its capabilities range from the provision of sophisticated fire detection and fire-fighting systems for major high-risk, high-value installations to solutions for smaller industrial, commercial or domestic use.

IGTC became a Bristol distributor in 1979 and last year we celebrated our 40-year successful partnership.

Bristol Uniforms in the Gulf
International Gulf Trading Company and Bristol Uniforms celebrate 40 years partnership (L-R) Maged Hassaballah, Sales Manager of International Gulf Trading Company, Maher Alzaeem, Group CFO of Al Mana Holding, Hamad Al Mana, President of Al Mana Holding, Paul Gibson, International Sales Manager at Bristol Uniforms, Abdulrahman Al Mana, Board Member of Al Mana Holding, and Rami Batrawi, General Manager of International Gulf Trading Company.

In more recent years, since these initial partnerships were formed with our first distributors in UAE and Qatar, we have gone on to expand our reach and form relationships with several other companies in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.

In 2012 Bristol began working with another company in the Concorde-Corodex Group. Integrated Engineering Solutions (IES) based in Oman is a leading provider of water treatment solutions, components, chemicals, firefighting safety, rescue equipment and vehicle manufacturing in the country. Over the last few years, we have worked closely together to build up a customer base in Oman, attending the Oman Fire & Security Expo in Muscat and providing firefighting PPE to customers such as Oman Civil Defence.

Successful partnerships have also been formed with Mahmoud Said Fakhry & Sons in Saudi Arabia in 2005, Al Jazeera Industrial Services in the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2006 and Ahmed Al Salah & Sons in Kuwait in 2014.

PPE preferences

We are often asked about PPE preferences across the globe. Bristol’s customers in the Gulf tend to favour structural firefighting ensembles as these provide maximum protection suitable for both municipal and industrial firefighting. Our latest XFlex and Ergotech Action structural firefighting ranges come in a variety of colours and fabrics with either PBI or DuPont Nomex fibres, and a choice of moisture barrier such as Gore’s Crosstech Airlock, Crosstech Fireblocker and Parallon.

Bristol Uniforms in the Gulf
XFlex worn by Dubai Civil Defence

Both styles are popular in the region since they adhere to international standards set by all major international standard-setting bodies.

National Civil Defence Forces in both Qatar and UAE have opted for our innovative XFlex range, which features a Gore Crosstech moisture barrier, and Hainsworth’s TITAN1220 outer layer, supplied in Paris Blue to Qatar Civil Defence and Desert Tan to UAE Civil Defence. This kit is perfect because it is ergonomically designed, with distinctive sports styling, enabling excellent range of movement and flexibility which helps firefighters carry out a variety of physical roles more effectively. Its combination of protective and breathable light-weight materials offers maximum comfort and guard against heat stress.

Bahrain Civil Defence has specified the alternative Ergotech Action 2 fire coats and trousers, also with a Hainsworth Titan 1220 outer layer in Paris Blue. This style is lightweight and ergonomic, featuring special shoulder shaping, which provides greater comfort when wearing breathing apparatus, plus large underarm gussets for greater reach manoeuvrability.

Oil and gas companies across the region tend to favour XFlex for their industrial firefighters. The Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO), for example, selected XFlex for its durable, lightweight, breathable, and flexible qualities, which is perfect for this type of environment.

All firefighters are also provided with specialist, compatible helmets, hoods, boots and gloves to provide top-to-toe protection.

At Bristol Uniforms, we’re very proud of the strong relationships we have built with our representatives in the Gulf and of the hard work and dedication provided by the distributor network in the region for many years. Without doubt, their support has helped us widen our international reach and to consolidate our position as one of the world’s leading suppliers of firefighting PPE.

For more information visit www.bristoluniforms.com/

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