• Protective clothing and turnout gear actually have a number of similarities in terms of purpose, design and development. Naturally, body armor and turnout gear are both protective clothing items, and serve to keep the wearer safe from whatever threats they will be facing in their environment. However, the similarities run far deeper than most realize. The threats facing both Firefighters and people who require body armor, like the Police, are very similar in certain situations. However, even where they differ the methods and materials used in the two items are similar, as the protection necessitates similar schools of thought in design and development. Furthermore, by taking an in-depth look at the protection used on both sides, and the materials involved, each area can benefit and further its own development and design.

    While the threats facing Firefighters and Police, for example, will be similar at times, the main threats to both differ greatly. While those wearing body armor will expect to face bullets, knives, or needles, Firefighters know their main threats are from fire and heat. The protective clothing Firefighters will use- their turnout gear- has to be able to withstand incredibly high temperatures and counteract the myriad problems that this can bring.

    Both a bullet proof vest and turnout gear use the same materials, namely plastic fabrics formed from Aramids. These Aramids are strong, flexible, lightweight, heat-resistant fibers which are used to make fabrics like Kevlar, which is of course synonymous with bullet proof vests. Their strength is the reason they are used in ballistic protection, but they are also capable of standing upto extremely high temperatures, and will resist degradation. This is what allows these Aramids to work in turnout gear, as they will not melt or degrade even at temperatures of over 800°F. While Aramids are used in both turnout gear and body armor, manufacturers of Turnout Gear will specifically select fabrics designed to withstand high temperatures and flames. For example, the makers of Kevlar, DuPont- a staple in body armor- produce a material called Nomex, which is used commonly in Turnout Gear. Both Kevlar and Nomex are made from Aramids, and as such have incredibly high strength-to-weight ratios, but Kevlar sacrifices some of its heat resistance to improve this strength. Some manufacturers will use blends of materials, incorporating materials like Nomex and Kevlar to help improve things like resistance and comfort.

    Comfort is an aspect of protective clothing which is often overlooked, as many are under the impression that comfort is a small sacrifice to make for potentially life-saving strength. However, comfort is an important of body armor and turnout gear, and cannot be sacrificed. For one thing, providing clothing that can be worn comfortably helps ensure it will be worn and will not interfere. For those working in such high-risk situations, this is incredibly important. The main reason for considering comfort is the practical benefits it can bring, particularly when considering Turnout Gear. The other major problem Firefighters face is the build-up of moisture caused by excessive temperatures. Excessive sweating is a given in these circumstances, but brings with it severe physical issues, such as dehydration, exhaustion, and cardiac arrest. Just as seriously, moisture build-up can lead to severe burns as the sweat is super-heated, and even the degradation of the Gear’s protective capabilities. If the moisture compromises the air barriers within the clothing, its performance and protection can no longer be guaranteed.

    This is where the manufacturers of Turnout Gear follow somewhat in the developments of the body armor industry. A key problem for many manufacturers of Kevlar Vests is creating a product that can be worn comfortably for extended periods. By incorporating new design choices and newly developed materials, those making Turnout Gear can create items that are better suited to the conditions Firefighters work in. For example, some bullet proof vests incorporate breathable materials like CoolMax to help wick moisture away from the skin. This can directly benefit Firefighters, making Turnout Gear safer. Moreover, combining breathable and moisture-repellent materials with fabrics like Kevlar, Turnout Gear can not only improve comfort and breathability, but also prevent outside heat from being absorbed. The introduction of Aramid fabrics also helps reduce friction, allowing for the layers of Turnout Gear to work together much more efficiently.

    The similarities between body armor and turnout gear are no accident, as the considerations for each naturally lead to the same place. Dealing with extreme threats and inhospitable environments is key to the development of protective clothing. However, it is by looking at the developments made in each industry that manufacturers can help improve the safety and comfort of their products. Newly-developed materials are continuing to revolutionize the way protective clothing is made, and by using it in different ways the makers of Turnout Gear can provide Firefighters with as much protection as possible without impeding their ability to tackle fires and save lives.

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  • For security, military, and police personnel across the world, rifle-fire is one of the biggest threats they face in extreme situations. While a vast range of body armor is available to protect against lower-velocity handguns, defending against rifles requires a tougher solution. With bullet proof vests separated into five levels (by both the UK's Home Office Scientific Development Branch and the USA's National Institute of Justice), only those at levels III and IV (the highest two) offer reliable resistance against high-velocity rifle rounds.

    Vests at levels IIA, II, and IIIA are generally made with Kevlar: this absorbs a bullet's energy on impact, distributing it throughout the armor to slow the round to a halt. While this is highly effective for a range of handgun rounds, rifle bullets will tear right through. Level III and IV vests include ballistic plates (of steel and ceramics, respectively), which are strong enough to stop bullets hitting with an impact speed of up to 847 metres-per-second (level III) and 878 m/s (level IV).

    Numerous innovations have taken place within the body armor industry, enhancing the covert protection available to gun-users.

    Covert Vests for Discreet Protection

    Whether you're using a rifle yourself, or entering an environment in which others will be firing at you using them, you should wear armor at either level III or IV – for maximum protection in all eventualities, wear the latter.

    However, depending on the situation at hand – particularly if providing close protection to a VIP – you need to maintain a low profile to avoid attracting attention. Whether you're wearing smart or civilian clothing, you'll be unable to wear a vest overtly (over other layers), and so need to opt for covert armor. This is worn underneath your clothing, and is specifically made to be thinner & more lightweight, even with plates.

    To provide a greater level of protection and comfort, various innovations – such as breathable materials and moisture-wicking fabrics – have been developed. The StealthPRO vest, for example, features CoolMAX® technology, which allows air to ventilate through the material, keeping the wearer cool in even the hottest climates. It also includes SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) plate pockets, to protect against ammunition of a higher velocity, typically fired by rifles; plates up to levels III and IV can be inserted, providing the wearer with a more comprehensive form of defence.

    This is a significant breakthrough for covert rifle armor, keeping the wearer fully protected against the most lethal types of ammunition in a discreet way. While the CoolMAX technology helps to keep the wearer comfortable in the warmest, driest environments, the SAPI plates will stop such rounds as 7.62x51mm NATO M80 and .30-06 Springfield M2 AP (armour-piercing).

    As more and more manufacturers continue to focus on streamlining bullet proof vests, the range of covert armor available with enough strength to defend against rifle-fire will only increase. As the StealthPRO demonstrates providing the highest levels of ballistic protection in a lightweight, concealable form is entirely possible, offering maximum defense in even the most extreme situations.

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  • For 48 of the 50 states, the county sheriff is a highly-valued, traditional figure of law enforcement. Depending on the sheriff's county, they may find themselves heading just one or two team-members (such as in rural locations, which feature more sparse populations), or they could operate in a busy department with a large roster of officers. Obviously, a sheriff in an urban area such as Los Angeles or Chicago is likely to face a higher number of volatile situations than one based in a rural county, but there are, of course, no guarantees: each shift will bring its own challenges, and a sheriff may never know what these may be.

    Body armor is an essential part of the modern police officer's uniform when hostile armed suspects are a common threat. This is an unfortunate part of policing today's world, but thankfully there are now more options for protection than ever before. Today's sheriff can choose from a wide range of armor, offering protection against knives, handguns, and rifles, amongst other common weapons.

    Ballistic Vests

    Without a doubt, the most dangerous threat a sheriff is likely to face on duty is a suspect armed with a high-caliber weapon. Whatever the situation – a traffic stop gone wrong, a domestic incident spiraling out of control, or even a siege – the right ballistic vest can save lives. There are various types available now, with vests designed to protect against 9mm handguns through to automatic rifles. For greater simplicity, these are ranked in levels: II, IIIa and IV.

    As this ranking suggests, different vests offer varying protection against different rounds. Level II armor is designed to prevent injury from handguns, typically 9mm rounds as previously mentioned, and are commonly worn by officers on street patrol. As sheriff, the wearer is likely to be incredibly familiar with their county, and know which areas may pose more of a risk. In this case, the sheriff may choose to wear a level II or IIIa vest for attending a domestic incident in a low-risk neighborhood, or patrolling streets on a busy evening. These will usually feature Kevlar as part of their design – one of the most commonly used materials for effective protection. Bullets are stopped before they can pass through the armor, and while the round may not penetrate, severe bruising may still occur.

    Level IV vests are designed for more heavy-duty weaponry, such as sub-machine guns or rifles, and feature dense materials such as ceramics or Dyneema polyethylene. As a sheriff, wearing robust, reliable protection ensures you set a solid example for the rest of the team: be prepared for any situation.

    Stab Protection

    Knives are a perennial threat to law enforcement officers, and as with ballistics vests, edged blade armor (otherwise known as a stab vest) is categorized based on the level of protection it offers: levels II and III (the latter level applies to vests designed to prevent injury from attacks made with a higher number of joules).

    Spiked weapons can also be used as improvised weapons by suspects, particularly in domestic situations or when they may feel under threat of arrest. A large needle, an ice pick or a broken bottle may cause a severe injury when used with enough force, and can even be fatal – spiked armor vests can save lives by stopping the tip from passing through the threads in the material, as they would with normal clothing.

    It's important to remember that one kind of body armor does not offer protection against all weapons: if a sheriff or sheriff's officer wearing a stab vest is fired upon, the armor will not stop the bullet, and the same applies when an officer wearing a ballistics vest is attacked with a sharp object. The wearer must consider which type of armor they're wearing before they enter a situation which may pose a threat – the right approach can make all the difference.

    Should Armor be Covert or Overt?

    There is no easy answer to this question, or, indeed, just one. Wearing covert or overt armor is entirely down to you, as sheriff or sheriff's officer – you may be able to judge which will be appropriate depending on the areas you are likely to patrol, and the situations you expect to face. An overt vest is worn over the uniform, and is typically of a bulky design – this may provoke a variety of reactions from civilians. Some neighborhoods, for example, may greet the sight of a law enforcement representative dressed in an obvious ballistics vest as an insult, or, conversely, find it highly unnerving. On the other hand, it may alert potential criminals to the fact that a sheriff or sheriff's officer is in the vicinity, and prepared for trouble.

    In certain scenarios, covert vests may be more appropriate. These are worn beneath the uniform, and provide reliable protection in a more discrete way. Covert vests are favored by officers in civilian clothing, or working undercover – they offer peace of mind without highlighting the wearer as a law enforcement official. Though thinner than overt vests, covert armors usually feature moisture wicking fabrics to help keep the wearer cool when wearing multiple layers.

    Another option is the covert / overt vest, which offers great versatility: the wearer can choose to wear this over or under their uniform as the situation dictates. These are manufactured to provide more protection than a standard covert vest, but are still thinner than most overt vests – this range of choice makes this armor a valuable product to keep close to hand at all times.

    Choosing which type of armor is down to the individual sheriff or sheriff's officer. Depending on the types of people and situations you expect to encounter on an average shift, you should be able to assess the likelihood of specific risks beforehand. However, it's important to remember the unfortunate fact that no shift is guaranteed to be 'average', and complacency should be avoided.

    Size and Fit: Key Considerations

    This will come as no surprise to you if you've worn body armor before, but choosing the right fit for your body and needs is essential. Why? Because armor is designed to protect the body's vital organs, they should only cover the central part of the torso – they should hang no lower than the navel area. If a vest does exceed this length, then it may leave the wearer's range of motion inhibited, which can be potentially fatal in a volatile situation.

    Before you order body armor, you should measure yourself thoroughly to ensure the best fit and maximum protection. Never wear a vest which feels uncomfortable, be it too big or too small – this could be a fatal mistake.

    When choosing armor, it's important to remember that you're investing in a product which may save your life someday. Never skimp on cost, and never wear a vest which is damaged in any way – this could limit its effectiveness, and allow injuries to still occur.

    If in doubt, seek expert advice – and stay safe.

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  • It is the nature of Journalism that some will choose to work from incredibly dangerous locations. It is important that we continue to facilitate the travel to and work from these locations, as reporters working in dangerous locations give us insights into the events occurring around the world. Reporting from these locations is very brave and is important in order to raise awareness among the public of things happening in other countries. However, the dangers inherent to these locations means that anyone choosing to travel to or work in these areas has to be protected and must prepare for the threats they will face.

    Far too few are doing this though, and there are a number of people working in very dangerous environments without the proper protection. There are a number of reasons for this, for example an increasing pressure among younger and less experienced reporters. It is only in recent years that organisations have begun to discourage freelance reporters from working in active war zones. After the tragic death of James Foley in Syria some News Corporations released statements declaring that they would no longer accept any freelance work from areas “where we ourselves would not venture”.

    However, there are still too many organisations that offer no such guarantees, and continue to accept and even encourage work from dangerous locations across the globe. Journalists that choose to pursue these offers should not be blamed, and it is important that the events and issues occurring in these areas are reported on. Instead, the blame should be placed with organisations that continue to encourage reporters to work from these areas without taking proper precautions. Indeed, even key figures in the field of Journalism have commented on the lack of preparation among reporters; Terry Anderson, the Associated Press’ Chief Middle East Correspondent during the 1980s who spent 6 years as a hostage in Lebanon has noted that there are an increasing number of younger individuals not taking the proper precautions. He does not advise that they avoid these dangerous locations however, but warns that doing so without preparing accordingly is incredibly dangerous.

    Of course it is difficult to generalize when discussing these ‘dangerous locations’, as the threats facing Journalists are widespread and not simply confined to active war zones. For example, the last year saw two separate attacks in Paris that ended in tragedy, and while only one of these incidents targeted Journalists specifically, both serve as an example of the dangers that can face reporters throughout the world. Looking further afield, we see how unstable political and economic regions can prove to be dangerous for Journalists. Russia has long had a lack of political freedom and is consistently criticized for its restrictions on free speech. However, the number of Journalists killed in Russia continues to rise; at least 34 Journalists have been killed in Russia since 2000. Compare this to China and the USA, which saw 2 and 3 Journalists killed in the same period respectively.

    One of the main threats to Journalists comes from organised crime, particularly where it has infected the political structure and bred corruption. Areas that rank highly for crime and organised crime also suffer from high rates of killings among Journalists; Latin America and the Indian Subcontinent have continued to see an increase in the number of Journalists killed, and almost 50% of global killings of Journalists have occurred in these locations. Again, this does cover a number of countries and a wide geographical area. However, it is clear that it is not only active warzones or those areas typically seen as hostile towards Journalists that pose the biggest threat. Indeed, in the last 10 years only 36% of all Journalist killings occurred in active warzones.

    This is not to say that active warzones are not dangerous, however, and per country Iraq and Syria are responsible for the most deaths among Journalists in the past 20 years. Awareness is perhaps the most important aspect for anyone considering reporting from these locations, as deaths among Journalists do not necessarily come intentionally. Crossfire is the biggest danger to Journalists operating in hostile environments, causing the deaths of 210 Journalists in the last 20 years; of those, 45% were killed in the last 5 years. Of course, Journalists are increasingly targeted by hostile parties for their strategic value, and terrorist groups in particular see the value of kidnapping and executing Journalists. For example, the Iraqi city of Mosul has seen 48 abductions and 13 executions of Journalists by Daesh in the last 18 months. Furthermore, in 2019 there were 54 Journalists held as hostages.

    Protecting yourself in these environments is a difficult task, and for some it may be preferable to simply not travel to these areas. However, as noted, it is difficult to know exactly where a threat may come from, and there are a number of dangerous locations throughout the globe. Moreover, it is unreasonable to expect Journalists not to work from these places, and the work they do is invaluable to society. However, through proper preparation and awareness of the dangers an individual can keep him or herself safe. One simple step is to invest in a bullet proof vest, which can provide protection without too much effort. Indeed, the image of war correspondents in vests emblazoned with ‘PRESS’ is a common one. However, it has been argued that this actually distinguishes reporters as a target, and instead it may be worthwhile for Journalists to consider a covert bullet resistant vest.

    Whatever the choice, the decision to travel to and work from dangerous locations throughout the world can only be undertaken by the individual. These decisions must reflect proper preparation and an awareness of the dangers, as well as the options available to prevent the worst from happening. It is important for us all to support these brave women and men and continue to provide information and protective options to help enable them to bring us important insights.

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  • The impact of Piracy is great, and cannot be denied; the economic cost is incredibly high, but the damage done to human life is incalculable. It is very difficult to ascertain the specific costs of Piracy, but fortunately there are a number of methods available to help combat and deter Piracy. This comes as Piracy continues to thrive, and attacks and kidnappings see a marked rise. It is understandable therefore why crews and vessels continue to invest heavily in anti-Piracy measures. There are many options available that range from the cheap to the expensive, and all will have varying degrees of success depending on the situation. Below are some examples of anti-Piracy methods available.


    Evading Pirates may seem simplistic or ineffective, and yet if a ship can avoid Pirates altogether, they will not be at risk of attack whatsoever. It is certainly a simple and non-combative option, yet it does have its disadvantages. For example, the added cost in time and fuel can make it counter-productive for many, and therefore not a viable solution. More importantly however, studies have shown that Piracy increases in areas with the most shipping. Evasion en masse therefore may only delay Piracy and cause it to shift to other areas. However, for some ships perhaps making one-off journeys, it is an effective option.

    Water Hoses

    Water hoses are the most commonly used anti-piracy weapons, and are certainly one of the simplest and cheapest methods available. Nevertheless, it is often seen as being less effective than other methods. However, by targeting attackers with water hoses crews can make boarding impossible by creating slippery surfaces or literally pushing Pirates from their boats.


    Foam is very similar to water hoses in its aim. By coating the surface of a ship in slippery foam, there is no way for Pirates to gain purchase and board. However, there are some concerns over the environmental impact of using foam.

    Barbed Wire

    Many ships are hesitant to employ barbed wire, seeing it as a particularly aggressive solution. Even though it is not ‘actively’ combative, like the methods outlined below, it still certainly creates a hostile image, one which many- particularly civilian ships- will find unpalatable. Nevertheless, covering ships in barbed wire is undeniably effective in preventing Pirates from boarding. Barbed wire may also be intimidating to Pirates, as it displays a readiness to attackers that may deter them.

    Armed Guards

    Unlike the above methods, which are usually seen as non-aggressive and non-combative, deploying Armed Guards on a ship is certainly an aggressive method of preventing piracy. Nevertheless, displaying to Pirates a readiness for attack is one of the key considerations in hiring Private Security to protect ships. After all, there is little that signals a preparedness for attack than the presence of Maritime Security Operatives. Indeed, statistics have shown that vessels employing private protection have a far lower rate of boarding than other ships. This goes to show, therefore, that Maritime Security is not necessarily combative, and can serve as more of a deterrent. However, these services can be costly, particularly when considering the equipment they need, which stretches from weapons to bullet proof vests. Similarly, they may be an unwelcome sight on civilian crafts.

    Sonic Weapons

    Finally, there are the seemingly fantastical weapons that have nonetheless proven to be very useful in Maritime environments. By harnessing sounds far above the human threshold these ‘Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD)’ can incapacitate attackers with focused sounds. These weapons are remarkably accessible and have proven effective in stopping Pirates. Other more common methods include rubber bullets and even non-lethal explosives.

    The above methods are just some of many that can be employed in combating Piracy. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and may not be suitable for all crafts or situations. However, there are myriad available to help keep crews safe, and using methods in tandem with diligence and awareness can help reduce the cost of a Pirate attack, and keep vessels and their crews safe.

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