Is your hood the weak link in your firefighting protective ensemble?

Gore’s particulate-blocking firefighter hood is durable, affordable and offers increased protection from fire ground particulates. By Robert Avsec for FireRescueOne Brand

As a longtime fire service instructor, I’ve always made it a point to stress to my students this important point about their firefighting protective hood: It’s traditionally the weakest component in the structural firefighting protective ensemble.
While their coat and trousers and gloves offer protection from thermal, liquid, and physical hazards, their hood only protects them from the thermal hazards of interior structural firefighting. And in fact, when the hood becomes wet from water or the wearer’s perspiration, the thermal protection becomes degraded as well.

Gore particulate hoods stop particulates from penetrating the hood. (Photo/W.L.Gore & Assoc.)
Gore particulate hoods stop particulates from penetrating the hood. (Photo/W.L.Gore & Assoc.)

The limitations of the legacy protective hood have become increasingly evident as we’ve learned more about the skin absorption risk that firefighters face from soot and other particulates during interior structural firefighting. Those legacy hoods, particularly as they become worn, do little to stop contaminated particulates from penetrating the hood’s fabric as well as entering through gaps in the hood/SCBA facepiece interface.
W. L. Gore & Associates (Gore) recognize this is unacceptable to firefighters. As the premier innovator for developing breathable moisture barriers for use in firefighting PPE (e.g. coats, trousers, boots and gloves), the design engineers at Gore saw an opportunity to take a good hood and make it better.
The result of their efforts is the GORE Particulate Hood that is manufactured and distributed by Majestic Fire Apparel, a leading manufacturer of fire apparel. “Gore’s philosophy for its products used by the fire service has always been to make them protective, durable, comfortable, and a great value,” said Lon Edelman, a strategic marketer with Gore.
According to Edelman, that’s been the focus over the years as Gore worked to develop moisture barriers for the different components of the firefighter protective ensemble. “Whether it was for the coat or the pants or the gloves, we’ve never just taken what worked in one component and used it in another,” said Edelman. “Our people have always looked at what the particular needs were for a component, say firefighter gloves, and then designed the best possible solution.”
Thus, while the current GORE moisture barriers for turnout gear are what Gore is known for today,  Gore’s design engineers set out to develop a new barrier best suited for a new generation of hood.
The outcome is a particulate-blocking hood that is true to Gore’s philosophy, in that it is:

  • Protective.
  • Durable.
  • Extensive testing. NFPA 1971 only requires testing of the fabric (the flat material test) used to construct the hoods. “So, we exceeded the performance requirement and durability requirements of the standard in terms of the hood’s particulate-blocking performance and durability,” said Edelman. “But we have a very big tradition at Gore of testing our products for fitness for the intended use, so we go beyond the testing of the performance of the fabric.”
  • Two easy-to-don styles. The GORE Particulate Hood comes in two styles: The black hood with thermal protective layers of Ultra C6.2 fabric and the white hood with Nomex blend thermal protective layers. 
  • Affordable.
  • Wear Test Program Knowing that firefighters like to try before they buy, for fire departments with 50 or more members Gore may provide a limited number of free hoods for the department’s evaluation. Interested fire departments can have their authorized Majestic Fire Apparel dealer sign up for the Wear Test Program here.

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