In Paris you will find not only the Eiffel tower and Notre Dame, but also the largest fire brigade in Europe. With its 8,500 fire fighters the Paris Fire Brigade is in fact the third largest urban fire brigade in the world, only topped by Tokyo and New York City. The Paris Fire Brigade is a part of the French army, and each fire fighter joins the brigade for a period of 5 years.
The safety of the firefighters is high on the agenda. It is of utmost importance that the fire brigade is equipped with the best possible fire gear, combining the best comfort with the highest degree of safety for the firefighter. It is therefore no surprise that when the brigade back in 2017 were to upgrade their fire garments, they selected ORAFOL as their supplier of the reflective trim. A prismatic reflective tape was selected for highest degree of visibility. Sioen is the manufacturer of the garments.
The tape of choice: ORALITE® FTP 2100
Jean-Philippe Roy, Business Development Manager for ORAFOL, explains, : “Paris Fire Brigade was very determined to offer their firefighters the most visible tape available in the market place today. They carry out dangerous tasks in difficult working conditions, and they must be able to fully trust that they are as visible as possible in all conditions. ORALITE® FTP 2100 met their high standards. Being a metallised prismatic tape, it provides the longest distance visibility available. In addition, the fact that the tape is also fluorescent means that it is also exceedingly visible in daytime or smoky conditions.”
Paris Fire Brigade sets forth a very good example for other fire brigades in that they have made the deliberate choice of a high quality solution for their firefighters. No compromises have been made. “The thing is that many reflective tapes do meet the law regulated requirements. But meeting the regulation is simply not enough – it is not a guarantee of 24/7 visibility of the firefighters. And when a fire brigade specifies a tape, the risk is that they will just specify regulation compliance, and choose the tape offered at the lowest cost,” Roy explains.
The specification for reflective components on PPE, EN ISO 20471, sets forth the minimum reflectivity for the tapes. Yet at the same time the same specification allows for a drop in reflective performance of 70% in wet conditions. This is exactly why being specification compliant is not enough. It is necessary to carefully evaluate the working conditions that the users will be subjected to, and select the best possible reflective tape based on this. “Prismatic reflective tapes remain highly reflective also in wet conditions, whereas glass bead tapes see a significant drop. This is simply due to the technologies working in different ways. Fire fighters work in wet conditions a great deal of time, so here a prismatic tape is really the only kind that truly makes sense”, Roy ends.
Prismatic tapes from ORAFOL is the preferred choice for many leading fire brigades around the world, including also the New York City Fire Brigade.