Section 8

Section 8 (PSA) - Personal Protective Equipment for Fire Brigades

Head of Department:
D. Hagebölling
Dipl.-Ing., Direktor der Feuerwehr a.D.
Hohes Feld 7, 48653 Coesfeld
Fon D.St.:

M. Siebrecht
Dekra Exam GmbH
Im Natt 30, 45141 Essen
Fon D.St.: 0201/52319-411
Fax: 0201/52319-401

Overview Aims & Tasks Department 8

The importance of the activities of Department 8 Personal protective equipment™ (persönliche Schutzausrüstung [PSA]) for fire brigades.

The GFPA maintains various departments as working committees to watch trends and developments of safety provisions under the aspects of fire protection, to analyse their daily practicability and to foster their popularity. Department 8 Personal Protective Equipment plays a key role here.

This department developed from a former responsibility for the sections inhalation and radiation protection as well as emergency services. Inhalation protection is still at focus, but continuously more attention is paid to the total spectrum of aspects of the personal protective equipment for fire fighters.

Various organisations are represented in Department 8 but, the fire brigades have most representatives in number. Besides, the fire brigades (professional fire brigades, plant fire brigades, volunteer fire brigades, the German Fire Brigades™ Association (Deutscher Feuerwehrverband), manufacturers, regulatory authorities, certification and test institutions, accident insurers, public fire fighter schools and mines fire brigades are represented.

The department™s activities aim at choosing and evaluating appropriate personal protective equipment for fire fighters with respect to the local risks, work conditions and tactical approaches. The results are the basis for the draft of the guidelines for:

  • the selection of appropriate personal protective equipment
  • construction and testing of personal protective equipment

For the fire brigades the above-mentioned guidelines are especially important. The guidelines reflect on the latest state-of-the-art, and the user can assume that any appliances in conformity with the guidelines are absolutely appropriate for fire brigades™ purposes and meet the specific requirements. Special analysis for choosing these protective gears by the according fire brigade is therefore not necessarily required only in case of extraordinary incident risks.

In addition, and regardless the autonomous activities as an GFPA expert committee, Department 8 does not only guide standardization projects but, decisively influences them, almost traditionally. In addition to intervention in the European standardization processes (CEN), which will be of worldwide importance in the foreseeable future (ISO), the experts of Department 8 participate in the development of national standards.

The competences of Department 8 have steadily increased towards other aspects of personal protective equipment within recent years. Special interest is given to the improvement of personal protective equipment with respect to protective quality, comfort and risk related adaptability.

Members of Department 8, with all their expertise, have also contributed to amendments of various fire brigade regulations. With the intentions to have the regulations become more practically oriented. According drafts are presented and discussed within Department 8 and at best, suggestions are made for optimisation.

But, the routine day of fire fighting is an issue for this department too. Every equipment user is asked to report any failure of personal protective equipment to Department 8 as it will then test, if the failure has any relevance for fire protection in total and whenever required, if standardization processes or possibly manufacturers or users can be influenced.

Even little things are analysed and worked at by Department 8 such as the correct fixture of personal protective equipment in fire engines especially in the firemen cabin.

From the development of radio communication as well as data recording and processing probably new possibilities result for the application of personal protective equipment, by sending out telemetric signals from an incident area for supervision and analysis purposes.

Last but not least, the department gives impulse to new research projects for the improvement of personal protective gears. Exemplary important fields of problems should be mentioned, reflecting the interaction between certain personal protective equipment and the individual user. Notably, today there is not sufficient information available on this matter which could certainly place the chiefs of fire brigades into the position to judge when the limit of the performance of man and material is reached.

There is no doubt, that the services of this department can only be practically useful and effective for the German fire brigades, if they provide feedback from their operational routine. From the given information, the department may then draw conclusions on risks, difficulties, qualities and methods of applications with respect to the personal protective equipment.

Structure and Organisation of Department 8, Members: 30:

  • German Association of Fire Brigades
  • Fire Brigade Accident Insurances
  • Supervision Authorities
  • State Fire Fighter Schools
  • German Institute for Standardization (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. V. (DIN)
  • German Committee for Mine Rescue (Deutscher Ausschuss für das Grubenrettungswesen)
  • Mine Accident Prevention & Insurance Association (Bergbau Berufsgenossenschaft)
  • Federal Administrative Directorate (Bundesverwaltungsamt)
  • Test and Certification Authorities
  • Professional Fire Brigades
  • Plant Fire Brigades
  • Manufacturers of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Austrian State Fire Protection Association (Österreichischer Bundesfeuerwehrverband)

Attachment - Brief Overview of tasks and fulfilment:

  • Supervision and assessment of technical developments in the field of personal protective equipment for fire brigades.
  • Elaborate guidelines with respect to their practicability and acceptance for the use of personal protective equipment for German fire brigades and tested by certain proof authorities approved by the Länder™ and the Federal Government of Germany.
  • Publishing guidelines and recommendations for the handling of personal protective equipment.
  • Involvement in drafts of national and international Standards for personal protective equipment.
  • Consultancy and support on amendments to relevant regulations for fire brigades.
  • Analysis and assessment of failures and accidents in connection with the personal protective equipment of fire brigades
  • Editing recommendations for supervision authorities and standardization committees
  • Expert guidance of research projects for test purposes of personal protective equipment and its interaction with the user
  • Risk Analysis of specific incidents for an adequate choice of personal protective equipment for fire brigades.