Categories: Breaking News, PPE

Exclusive: Staying ahead of the fire with VIKING

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VIKING’s new IGNIS series of fire suits have been designed from scratch to achieve the highest standards in protection while meeting today’s demands for comfort, visibility and durability

While Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) captured wildfires burning the highest amount of land in Europe (659,541 hectares) in the year to mid-August 2022 since records began in 2006 from on high, it was once again left to firefighters on the ground to get to the heart of the matter.

During August’s heatwave, one blaze alone in southwestern France set light to 7,000 hectares, with French authorities requesting attendance from over 1,000 firefighters and requesting support from organisations in Austria, Germany, Greece, Poland and Romania.

But the rising wildfire menace is only one cue for what VIKING Life-Saving Equipment believes has been an overdue reappraisal of firefighter needs, and the development of two new fire suits that the Danish company says meet and exceed the imperatives of certification, function, comfort and asset management.

“We gave our designers a free hand to start from scratch and deliver high-performance fire suits that go beyond latest protection standards while bringing gains for comfort, visibility and greater freedom of movement,” says Gitte Schou Jensen, Product Manager Fire, VIKING.

Structural firefighting

The VIKING IGNIS EN469 is a testament to VIKING’s strong position as a supplier of PPE for structural firefighting. With an optimised overall fit, VIKING IGNIS EN469 also features reflective piping to emphasise contours for greater visibility and safety without compromising breathability, while extra para-aramid reinforcements at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and bottom of the legs provide maximum durability in challenging conditions.

Jensen tells: “We’ve also ensured that the jacket is designed for optimised mobility at the shoulders and arms with pockets in all the right places. The trousers are also ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and unhindered movement.”

PartX Particle Protection

 As an added safety feature, the VIKING IGNIS EN469 is available with optional PartX Particle Protection, adds Jensen. The result of years of development, refinement and rigorous testing, VIKING’s PartX solution draws on technological progress in PPE materials, multi-layered designs and particle filtering capabilities.

“Facing danger is part of the job for firefighters, but exposure to potentially carcinogenic particles represents a continuous risk whose consequences can be just as serious: that also demands innovation,” says Jensen.

Firmly closed PartX cuffs feature a special filtering solution to defend against particle entry without uncomfortable tightening around the wrists, while the PartX closure at the bottom of the legs helps prevent particles from slipping under the hemline without reducing mobility.

Wildland firefighting and technical rescue

Though completely new to the European market, the VIKING IGNIS WTR builds on VIKING’s experience as a supplier of multi[1]certified ‘VIKING SHIELD’ suits in North America. The VIKING IGNIS WTR delivers protection to exceed technical rescue (EN ISO 11612EN) and wildland fire (EN ISO 15384) standards.

“As the frequency of wildfires continues to rise in Europe, the VIKING IGNIS WTR suits meet the specific challenges faced in technical rescue situations,” says Jensen. “Designed for constant wear in changing work environments, they have all the features you expect from VIKING for comfortable, durable protection, and are dual approved to technical rescue and wildland firefighting standards.”

Track and Trace

The attention to detail involved in the IGNIS series’ design extends to the VIKING Track and Trace that helps fire services manage their fire suit portfolio, including the washing and reimpregnation process.

Via a smartphone app or customer portal, the user simply scans the bar code or the NFC chip on the suit and then registers information about exposure to dangerous particles, washings, maintenance and repair.

Fire services can use the information to get an overview of the suit per individual and the overall status of suits for the entire department. This overview can help improve washing routines, for example by using information to ensure that reimpregnation can be scheduled to help reduce firefighter exposure to contamination.

The system is also a key component of VIKING’s PartX Particle Protection Technology concept, that includes features that help reduce particle entry. A new PartX washing bag for storage and washing also keeps exposure to potentially harmful particles to a minimum by reducing handling of soiled suit. The bag includes a specially designed zipper that releases the suit during the wash cycle.

“The investment in digital asset management techniques represents an additional dimension in VIKING’s approach to providing high-quality PPE that can be relied upon to save lives in any situation,” adds Jensen.

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