The Last Word with Fire-Dex

March 1, 2024

Todd Herring, V.P. of Product Innovation and Strategy, Fire-Dex, talks about the latest innovation in turnout gear

Could you introduce us to Fire-Dex’s latest product offering?

Our latest product, the AeroFlex™ turnout gear, represents a paradigm shift in firefighter protective apparel.

The concept for this innovative gear stems from the pressing need to address the growing risks faced by firefighters due to modern building materials, which contribute to fires burning hotter and faster than ever before.

At its core, AeroFlex boasts what is groundbreaking ventilation technology aimed at enabling wearers to regulate their core body temperature more effectively.

Unlike previous attempts at ventilation in the fire service industry, this dynamic system operates as a one-way street, facilitating airflow to promote sweat evaporation without compromising the gear’s protective functions.

We accomplish this through a combination of advanced materials, strategic vent placement, and exclusive construction techniques.

How does this product address current challenges or gaps in the fire sector?

The industry has attempted vented thermal liners or outer shells, but achieving simultaneous moisture barrier ventilation has been a major challenge.

The problem lies in creating a system that allows air to flow out for cooling while preventing liquids and contaminants from getting in.

With AeroFlex, we create a microscale zone within the gear that consistently maintains a pressure differential equal or higher to the outside environment, so it can breathe while creating an effective barrier against water, heat and impurities.

Venting through all layers of the thermal liner and moisture barrier is the key to performance and something that hasn’t been achieved until now.

How does AeroFlex fit into your existing portfolio?

When our body experiences heat stress, it produces sweat, which disperses heat from the skin as it evaporates.

This mechanism is essential for cooling us and preventing heat-related illnesses.

However, firefighters wearing protective clothing disrupt this natural cooling process.

Turnout gear is specifically designed to block radiant, convective, and conductive heat transfer, so it hinders the body’s ability to cool down at the same time.

Meaning that to ensure effective cooling, it’s crucial for sweat to have a proper exit route.

The science behind AeroFlex revolves around managing heat and moisture, and that’s where Resistance to Evaporative Transfer (Ret) becomes a critical metric.

Ret testing assesses how well a garment facilitates the evaporation of sweat.

Notably, athletic clothing companies have also adopted Ret testing into their product development, allowing them to create apparel that optimizes evaporation.

With AeroFlex, which combines patent-pending ventilation technologies from Fire-Dex, we’ve demonstrated superior Ret performance comparative to other leading garments and given the industry what is effectively the coolest turnout gear yet.

Where do you see AeroFlex positioned in the market in the next 5 years?

As awareness grows about the importance of protecting firefighters from heat stress-related incidents, demand for advanced turnout gear is likely to increase.

Because AeroFlex prioritizes protection and breathability to a degree not seen before, I think it can establish a new standard in turnout gear and become widely adopted by those who have experienced the significant difference for themselves.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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