It is just over two years since the ICP started its mid-term Technology Refresh programme, which has involved one of the most extensive and thorough PPE reassessments ever undertaken in the UK into the operation of a national procurement scheme for firefighter clothing. As the renamed CPCC (Central PPE and Clothing Contract), it is now being re-launched with a new range of PPE to take the procurement scheme into the second half of its intended life well into the 2020s.
Simple to join, user friendly and easy to manage
The CPCC remains open to any FRS in England and Wales to join free of charge. Membership, and access to the full range of garments and services, is simple and easy to obtain. All the services, which come as part of the selected package option, are inclusive as part of the contract. This ensures ease of budgeting, providing control over the operational costs of clothing and protecting frontline firefighters as well as support staff. Tried and tested, the CPCC now has the benefit of a proven track record, has demonstrated its reliability and resilience and is being enhanced by the inclusion of a new range of PPE incorporating the latest design principles. Straightforward to join, free from the usual tendering costs and easy to manage, the CPCC has the additional benefit of being encompassed within a management process which is available online. Information and data on everything from where in the managed service programme individual pieces of PPE are, to the condition codes for the entire wardrobe, is accessible remotely round the clock. All the essential information needed by FRS Users to monitor and manage the protective clothing of firefighters, spread across many fire stations and locations, is available to any authorised person anytime and anywhere.
Procurement options provide flexibility for FRAs
The CPCC continues to offer a range of flexible managed service options. These include three procurement and service options to suit individual FRS preferences and includes a Fully Managed Service (FMS), a lease option providing planned garment maintenance; a Purchased Managed Service (PMS), a PPE purchase option with a flexible managed services provision and, thirdly, a basic Purchase Option (PO). Under the FMS scheme, two sets of firefighter structural coat and trouser are included in the package which provides FMS Users with an enhanced level of operational resilience.
Bristol has been instrumental in encouraging the fire and rescue services to see lifetime garment care as the safest, and most cost effective, means of protecting firefighters. By considerably extending the service life of PPE the overall cost of ownership is reduced whilst firefighters get to wear regularly cleaned and repaired garments that are always fully fit for purpose and meet the performance standards to which they were manufactured. Lifetime garment care is an integral part of the CPCC which provides garment sizing and online wardrobe management services as well as the UK’s leading collect and return comprehensive care service fully carried out in the company’s own facilities in London and Bristol. Inspection, washing, decontamination, repair, condition coding and tracking all form part of the lifetime garment maintenance programme designed to ensure optimum PPE longevity and to help users with garment end of life and replacement planning. Data on individual garments is stored and managed centrally and is available confidentially to individually registered users online 24/7.
New technical garments for a new age
In the spring of 2015, the CPCC User Group, along with the Crown Commercial Services and Bristol, reviewed the previous 18 months work to agree on the selection of PPE to be included in the range which was introduced in the autumn last year.
This new range benefits from being based on Bristol’s latest design platform, XFlex™, and incorporates many of its design features. As before, all CPCC garments are available in a range of sizes for male and female firefighters with equality and diversity as core elements of the clothing range across PPE, station wear and corporate wear.
The new structural garments use a Hainsworth TITAN 1260 outer fabric, which is woven from PBI fibres and is a natural gold colour, and incorporates a Gore CROSSTECH™ Fire Blocker moisture barrier with a Hainsworth Eco-Dry Active lining. The head-to-toe range includes a helmet, fire hood, structural fire gloves and boots. The coat and trouser are available in a range of 28 male and female sizes.
The new technical rescue garments, similar to the XFlex™ based RescueFlex™, incorporates a Hi-Vis orange outer fabric with a Gore CROSSTECH SR moisture barrier available in a range of 28 male and female sizes. The head-to-toe range includes a helmet, technical rescue gloves and boots.
The PPE range is completed by the inclusion of a new wildland garment which is a single layer garment using a Hainsworth Eco-Dry Shield fabric specially designed for firefighter protection when fighting scrub, woodland and heathland wildfires. The fabric is retardant to extreme radiant and convective heat on the outside whilst on the inside offers wearer comfort during extended exposure to high temperatures. The garments are available in a range of 28 female and male sizes.
The latest station wear range is available in navy and red and continues to offer male and female garments including work trousers, T-shirts and safety shoes. Cold and foul weather garments include fleeces, waterproof jackets and gloves. Sweatshirts, sportswear and accessories make up the remainder of a clothing range recognised for its features of inclusiveness, diversity and equality.
The road to renewal
The Technology Refresh programme has been both rigorous and comprehensive. In the period since late 2013, when the programme was initiated, the entire original collection of PPE and non-PPE clothing, launched in 2008, has been reviewed, its operational effectiveness scrutinised and the expected benefits for participating fire and rescue services evaluated. Initially, in the light of this work, a number of alternative new PPE designs were examined before being put to the test. The first phase was a series of controlled environment field tests with a number of FRS, including DFRMO, in the UK and Cyprus which were undertaken in the spring and summer of 2014. This phase was followed by a six month wearer trials programme undertaken by selected firefighters from amongst all existing ICP Users. This was successfully completed at the end of 2014. It was only at the completion of this evaluation process that the final selection of the new, additional, garments, which now form part of the new CPCC range, was made.
First impressions count
Seen for the first time at the 2015 Emergency Services Show, the UK’s leading exhibition for the blue light services, the new CPCC PPE range has met with a positive response from many of the fire and rescue services and authorities previously unfamiliar with the workings of the scheme and the range of head-to-toe garments available. Along with the new structural and wildland firefighting garments, and technical rescue kit, the Navy station wear has also attracted considerable interest.
Mick Green, ACFO of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, commenting on the new range and its past benefits for their firefighters, said, “We are pleased that we took the opportunity to be a part of the ICP from the outset as, for Lincoln FRS over the past seven years, it has more than fulfilled its original objective of providing fire & rescue services with an uncomplicated, competitive and easy to use and manage PPE procurement facility.
When we look back at the time and financial resources we previously committed to sourcing, testing and negotiating the supply of firefighter garments, we realise just how much the scheme advanced the procurement process and the advantages it has provided.
Of particular benefit has been the User Group, which has offered all users a regular forum to meet with Bristol to discuss and review the working of the scheme and to agree on ways in which any improvements needed could be implemented. The online access to management information relating to our contract, and detailed records of every item of clothing in our wardrobe has been of real benefit as has the ability to acquire replacement, and additional, garments through the online wardrobe ordering service.
The PPE, and other garments we have had access to through the ICP, have been of high quality, durable and reliable and, through the integral managed services element of the contract, which has cleaned, repaired and fully maintained our garments, has resulted in a significant increase in the average operational life of our front line kit.
With the launch of the new range of PPE for the Central PPE and Clothing Contract, following the Technology Refresh, users now have the added benefit of access to new, state-of-the-art PPE from which to select replacement garments as the original garments come to end-of-life”.
Written by Philip Tasker, UK Sales Director, Bristol Uniforms for more information contact Bristol Uniforms.