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Ogalinau Izajcevb
Ogalinau Izajcevb

Thermal Protective Clothing For Firefighters


Background: Thermal protective clothing (TPC) worn by firefighters provides considerable protection from the external environment during structural fire suppression. However, TPC is associated with physiologic derangements that may have adverse cardiovascular consequences. These derangements should be treated during on-scene rehabilitation periods.

We investigated the relationship between baseline physical training and the use of firefighting thermal protective clothing (TPC) with breathing apparatus on functional balance. Twenty-three male firefighters performed a functional balance test under four gear/clothing conditions. Participants were divided into groups by physical training status, and task performance was analyzed. There was an effect of equipment and training status on performance with the group reporting both aerobic and resistance training performing better than the group reporting no physical training. In conclusion, firefighters walk more slowly as a strategy to maintain balance when wearing TPC, which may be suboptimal given the emergent nature of fire suppression. This result was most prominent in the group reporting no physical training.

There are two conflicting requirements that need to be addressed when designing and developing protective clothing for firefighters. The clothing must sufficiently block the heat from a fire to protect the firefighter against burning whilst effectively dissipating the metabolic heat generated to the environment to prevent heat stress [1, 2]. However, more importantly, both competing requirements should be simultaneously considered when designing and developing protective clothing for firefighters to ensure their health and safety together. To achieve this, this paper proposes new indices that evaluate the performance of firefighter protective clothing more holistically to enable the optimum material to be selected.

Unfortunately, most previous research has focused on either thermal protection or heat stress of firefighter protective clothing without considering two factors together [4, 5, 11,12,13]. Although some research analyzed both the thermal protection and the physiological burden of firefighter protective clothing, they did not provide the proper way to address two factors at the same time when selecting the optimal material/garment among candidate samples [14, 15]. This might cause the design failure of firefighter protective clothing. It is an unsolved question frequently encountered by engineers and designers because, for example, it is invariably difficult, in practice, to decide which is the optimal clothing assembly when one assembly exhibits a higher P-TP but lower P-AHS than another that exhibits a higher P-AHS but lower P-TP [3, 16]. Ideally, the firefighter protective clothing should provide the highest P-TP and at the same time confer the maximum P-AHS [3, 17], but, inherently, these two requirements conflict with each other.

Therefore, this study proposes novel approaches to scientifically evaluate candidate materials for firefighter protective clothing through the use of newly developed, holistic, simple-to-use indices to avoid possible errors at the initial stage of the development of firefighter protective clothing. It is hypothesized that, if the comprehensively measured P-TP and P-AHS are considered simultaneously, this will enable the selection of the optimum materials for the development of the protective clothing for firefighters. Furthermore, the standard of ISO 11999-3:2015 are critically examined through comparing with NFPA 1971:2013 and EN 469:2014, and comments on ISO 11999-3:2015 are made for the further improvement and development of technical standards.

A firefighter protective clothing assembly typically comprises of three layers of fabrics to provide the desired thermal protection [3, 4]. They include an outer layer, a moisture barrier, and a thermal barrier. In this study, three kinds of outer layers (O1, O2, O3), two types of moist


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