The Paris fire brigade: something new, something borrowed, something blue
The third largest fire department in the world is wearing a firefighter suit designed by Sioen. The fabric or assembly that was used, was especially designed for the BSPP’s needs.
May 25, 2020 - 3 min read
Firefighter suits, a work of art
Back in 2015, the Paris fire brigade (BSPP), released a tender to improve their firefighter garments. They wanted to optimise thermal protection by increasing escape time, maximise visibility, reduce heat stress and improve the firefighter's ergonomics.
Each and every single firefighter of the Paris fire brigade is very well trained and is in top physical condition, with highly developed muscular physiques. You might ask yourself why it is important to mention this, as it seems obvious. But on the contrary, it is a crucial element. With regular suits, there is hardly any room left between the firemen's arms and their suit's fabric. Because of this compression and lack of space, they are faced with constant risks of burns of those areas. It was important to improve that part of the suit, even though it might only seem to be a detail to an outsider.
Just like many other fire departments all around Europe and especially in France, the traditional colour of the Paris firefighter suit was blue. Thanks to thorough research on improving visibility, Sioen Fire suggested to change to red, which they did. Even though they were not the first fire department in France to change to a bright colour, the news was covered by different news channels, such as Le Parisien, stating that it is “a small revolution”.
Why the fuss if it’s only about visibility? First, visibility saves lives, which means that it’s of major importance. Nightly interventions, interventions in bad weather conditions: fog, rain, etc., but of course there is also plenty of smoke. What’s more, many interventions take place in the streets, on busy roads or in tunnels. Firemen protect our community with their lives. It’s our responsibility to protect those heroes as much as possible.
But it’s not only about visibility. The Paris lieutenant-colonel, the BSPP’s spokesperson explains to France Inter why the new colour is so valuable:
Thanks to this colour, we will be able to stand thermal radiation for 20 seconds instead of 14. We will be able to fight the fire longer and, above all, search for victims longer.
The bright red is the second-best option to deflect radiant heat, with only a disadvantage of some hundredths of a second. Beige is the only colour that does better. That is why beige was chosen for the long term operation suit that is used by Paris firemen who intervene in extreme conditions.
Protection through innovation
Thanks to a good collaboration between the BSPP and Sioen Fire, the new Paris firefighter suit has become a real success and an eyecatcher. The fabric, as well as the sizing and colour is new. The innovative 830 Square assembly protects BSPP firefighters on a daily basis. It contains two thermal barriers and a waterproof membrane. In case of a flashover, the fabric will produce an air bubble that protects the firefighter.
Next to the colour change, high visibility stripings were added to the suit to improve visibility even more. The Paris fire brigade suit now has less stripings than the previous, more traditional suit, but the stripings were used more effectively.
Many firefighters have indicated that the wearing comfort of this suit is extremely high. Of course, the high thermal protection and very good visibility are very valuable to the Paris firefighters. However, if you have to wear it day-in and day-out in very challenging and dangerous circumstances, you also need your suit to be comfortable and ergonomic.
Paris fire brigade in numbers (www.pompiersparis.fr)
760 km² surface area
6 916 965 inhabitants
9 075 inhabitants/ km² on average
50 million tourists
507 258 interventions per year
13 524 fires
Average duration fires 114 min
Average presentation time 7 min 23 s
The brigade de sapeurs-pompiers de Paris (BSPP) is the Paris fire brigade. They defend the 124 municipalities of the following departments : Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. It is the only fire department in France that works in different departments. The area is only 760 km2, but the population density is quite high. Seven million people live in this area.