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Firefighter Protective Clothing

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Jessica Clark

on 8 April 2014

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Transcript of Firefighter Protective Clothing

Firefighter Protective Clothing

Current Research
Current Research
Depends on:
Materials in fabric construction
Number, duration and intensity of exposure to heat
Abrasion and wear
Care procedures + maintenance
Useable Lifetime of FFPC
Future Outlook
Types of Hazards
ex. flames, electrical fires

ex. hot liquid, water, steam

ex. air contaminates and chemical penetration and permeation

HECOL 470 Winter 2014
Jessica Clark
Nicole McNeill
Carly Vanderschaaf

Hazards of the Job
Introduction to firefighter's PPE
Mechanisms of protective clothing
PPE and comfort
Current Research
Future Outlook

Thermal Hazards
radiant: ex. standing next to the flame

convective: ex. high air temperature after a flash fire

conductive: touching hot metal objects
Heat Stress issues
Heat stress can cause:
High heart rates or even heart attacks
reduced cognitive ability & inability to perform the task at hand
Eventually death
What They Wear
Comfort Issues
Useable Lifetime of FFPC
Current test methods include utilizing visual cues and field tests which are very subjective

Fire incident reporting system:
Computer program to track data and identify when equipment should be retired

Phase Change Materials
Insertion of PCM micro-capsules to improve thermal performance
Reduce heat stress and improve thermal performance

Future Outlook
Bionic Vision

How does Firefighter Protective Clothing Work?
Garment System
3 layers:
Shell of FR material
Moisture Barrier
Thermal Liner
Outer Shell
Function: to protect the garment system from igniting when exposed to flame and protect from mechanical hazards

made of either an inherently flame resistant material (aramids) or a FR treated fabric
Moisture Barrier
Function: provides protection from water and other liquids while creating moisture balance by allowing moisture vapour to flow through the system
FR Treated Cotton
can be very effective against flame, but does not maintain flame resistant properties once it has been damaged like aramids can
FR treatments work by either physical effects or chemical actions
Physical Effects
The agent applied to the fabric can either:
limit the passage combustible gases from the polymer to the flame
decompose upon heating and release non-flammable gases that limit the oxygen present
react and dissipate heat which cools fibres to a temperature that will not allow combustion to occur (Lam, Kan & Yuen, 2012)

Chemical Actions
Chemicals applied to the fabric can either:
change the temperature that degradation can occur
increase the formation of non-volatile products or decease the amount of volatile combustion products available
increase char formation, which limits combustion

made of a film that is either impermeable or microporous to allow for the passage of moisture vapour
Microporous Membranes: Gore-Tex
Thermal Liner
Function: provides insulation from heat to reduce heat transfer to the skin
made of non-woven aramid/FR batting material that is able to trap insulating air
Testing Effectiveness: Vertical Flammabilty Test

Testing Thermal Insulation: TPP
Torvi, Guest Lecture UofA Feb 27 2014
TPP and Layering
Typically as the thickness of the thermal liner or the garment system as a whole increases so does the TPP value
Areas around pockets and cuffs with extra fabric layers provide more thermal protection
(Lam, Kan & Yuen, 2012)
Current Research and Future Outlook
Fibres can store thermal energy
Energy can be dispersed naturally through the air or forced out through compression on the skin, causing severe burn injuries
Thick fabrics provide excellent thermal insulation however they store a lot of thermal energy (Song, Cao, & Gholamreza, 2011).
Types of Hazards
ex. blood and pathogens

ex. sharp objects, collapsing structures
Heat Storage
Current Research
Steam Protection
Steam can be an external hazard (ex. high pressured steam release) or can be created within the garment system if moisture that is trapped and accumulates on the skin is suddenly heated
Both circumstances have the potential to cause tissue burns
Protective Gear
weighs 10-15kg
covers the body fully
it consists of a
Gore-Tex jacket with shell and liner
high back trousers
a Kevlar hood
a respirator
impermeable rubber boots
Additional gear
the SCBA that weighs 10-12kg (Cheung & Petersen. 2010)
Weight and garment fit can affect mobility

Multiple layers and garments increase thermophysiological strain in heat conditions. Also affects mobility
(Song, G. 2014)
(Song, G. 2014)
(Cheung & Petersen. 2010)
Cheung, S. Petersen, T., & McLellan, T. (2010). Physiological strain and
countermeasures with firefighting.
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Globe Holding Company, (2014). Thermal Protection Performance (TPP). Accesed from http://www.globeturnoutgear.com/resources/nfpa-test-methods/thermal-protection-performance-tpp

Kilinc, F. S. (ed.), (2013). Handbook of Fire Resistant Textiles. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing.

Lam, Y., Kan, C. & Yuen, C. M., (2012) Developments in functional finishing of cotton fibres – wrinkle-resistant, flame-retardant and antimicrobial treatments, Textile Progress, 44:3-4, 175-249.

Makinen, H. (n.d). Firefighters’ protective clothing. Finnish Institute of
Occupational Health. Finland.

McCarthy, L. K. (2010).
Evaluation of the thermal performance of firefighter
protective clothing with the addition of phase change mateials.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland.

G. Murtaza (2012). Development of fabrics for steam and hot water protection. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Rezazadeh, M., & Torvi, D.A. (2011). Assessment of factors affecting the
continuing performance of firefighters’ protective clothing.
Fire Technology, 47,

Song, G. (2014). Human Ecology 470 Class Readings. Department of
Human Ecology. University of Alberta. Alberta, Canada.

Song, G., Cao, W., & Gholamreza, F. (2011). Analyzing stored thermal
energy and protective performance of clothing.
Textile Research Journal, 81,
1124, 1138. doi:10.1177/0040517511398943


Rezazadeh, & Torvi (2011)
Full Scale Testing
bench scale tests do not give a full picture of the true level of protection provided by a garment ensemble
Mannequin tests are used to assess the level of protection of different garment styles and fabrics
Flash Fire Manikin
Full Scale Testing: Addressing Comfort
Thermal Manikin
Human Trials & Surveys
Globe Holding Company, 2014
Firefighting is a complex occupation that requires specialized protection
They use a series of garments, many comprised of a 3 layer system
each layer has a specific function and can be tested to rate its performance
Thermal comfort is a huge issue
Future trends in research focus on increasing protection from unique hazards and utilizing new technology
(Kilinc, 2013)
Firefighters are the first line of defense in many emergencies
From car crashes to structural fires they are exposed to numerous hazards

Ongoing research analyzes various fabric layer configurations in protecting from steam
Impermeable membranes between fabric layers may reduce steam burns by preventing steam transfer through the fabrics-but can create comfort issues
Steam Protection
(Murtaza, 2012)
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