Published: Tuesday, 28th March 2017
Ballyclare has revealed the success of a series of trials of its recently launched structural firefighter garments. Our Xenon firefighter suit featuring the GORE® PARALLON™ System has been subjected to series of stringent tests, by Gore and Ballyclare, with extremely positive results being returned on both occasions.
The Ballyclare Xenon garments feature the GORE® PARALLON™ System produced by W.L. Gore and Associates – a company with whom Ballyclare has a long and well-established relationship. “The two companies have worked very closely together to create these garments,” explains Richard Ballheimer, Ballyclare’s Fire & Technical Director. “We launched them in both male and female fits late last year and the reaction from the market was extremely encouraging. The tests undertaken by both companies proves the quality of the garments and underlines why the market responded so positively.
“They represent a real revolution rather than an evolution,” continues Richard. “To create them we looked well beyond existing technologies and took a brand-new approach to creating multi-layered, multi-functional structural firefighting clothing. This really paid dividends in providing outstanding wearer comfort, and was one of the reasons the garments performed so well in trials.”
The lightweight, breathable and waterproof GORE® PARALLON™ System provides outstanding thermal protection to the wearer, thanks to its double membrane configuration. This reduces the risk of burn injuries and heat stress in wet and dry conditions, and creates consistent protection without compromising comfort. Although traditional firefighter PPE can provide excellent protection against heat and flame, firefighters wearing wet gear in sub-flashover conditions can still suffer steam burns caused by a build-up of thermal energy and moisture inside the garment. Compression caused by crouching, kneeling or apparatus harness straps can add to the danger. The GORE® PARALLON™ System significantly reduces this risk by using a highly breathable Gore thermal barrier, combined with a GORE-TEX® or CROSSTECH® Moisture barrier. This twin-membrane structure maintains thermal protection and breathability. It also wicks moisture away from the skin and out through the suit, while preventing liquid penetration from the outside at the same time.
“When a fire suit is wet inside, protection levels can drop by 45%, decreasing the time to burn and providing less time to escape,” adds Richard. “Wet condition tests show that the GORE® PARALLON™ System consistently maintains thermal protection, which provides more escape time and reduces the risk of burns. The trials also confirmed that the inside of the Xenon GORE® PARALLON™ System suits dry 20% faster than traditional alternatives.”
Because comfort and breathability is high, the risk of heat stress is reduced and the wearer is kept 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. Wearers also praised the Xenon GORE® PARALLON™ System for its comfort, and freedom of movement, commenting on the slow level of heat build-up, and the speed with which they were able to cool down when they moved away from the heat source.
“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.
Find out more about Xenon and the GORE® PARALLON™ System.