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Personal Protective Equipment

Men and women who fight structural fires rely heavily on equipment. Currently, we are examining material technology, instruments to better detect heat stress, and improving self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs). Learn more about what we are doing to improve the PPE used by fire fighters.

Breathing Protection

Current Projects

NIOSH Respirator User Notices

Approved Respirator Standards: To protect Emergency Responders against CBRN agents in terrorist attacks

Fire fighter SCBA evaluations
This research is being done to investigate self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) involved in and possibly contributing to a fire fighter fatality or injury in order to improve the quality of SCBA

Evaluation of NFPA 1991 vapor protective ensembles worn with CC-SCBAs
Fire fighters are wearing National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1991 certified ensembles over closed-circuit self-contained breathing apparatus (CC-SCBA), though performance testing during the certification process was only conducted with open-circuit SCBA. To address this situation, this research will conduct performance testing on fully-encapsulated protective ensembles worn over CC-SCBA. Findings will help determine the impact on internal ensemble overpressure and oxygen built inside the ensemble.

Respirator Testing and Certification
This Congressionally-mandated project coordinates and provides five primary functions: respirator certification; quality assurance; investigation of complaints concerning certified respirators, technical assistance, and standards development. Additionally, this project develops the processes needed to certify respiratory protection, including laboratory bench testing, human subject testing, and environmental testing. This effort addresses contemporary hazards by expeditiously incorporating technological advancements into Federal Standards.


Technical Equipment

Conference Presentations

Current Projects

Fire fighter heat dosimeter

This research will increase the understanding of fire fighter thermal loading with respect to their personal safety, and the proper functioning of their PPE. The data will be used to help create proper mission criteria for the personal Alert Safety System (PASS). A second goal will be determined if it is possible to develop compact instrumentation that accurately characterizes fire fighter thermal loading. Such a device might become the core of an even more important piece of PPE that could be employed to warn fire fighters they are in danger of being overcome by heat.


Turnout Gear

Conference Presentations

Related Projects

Comparison of ensemble Total Inward Leakage (TIL) tests
This research project will result a greater understanding of the three most commonly used inward leakage tests for personal protective equipment (PPE) ensembles. The Inward Leakage Test (SF6), Man-In-Simulant-Test (MIST) and Total Inward Leakage Test (Corn Oil) will be evaluated. Each of these methods measures inward vapors or aerosols leakage. This research on ensemble tests will ensure that PPE for hazmat teams, law enforcement, fire fighters, technical rescuers, soldiers and other first responders is tested and certified to the appropriate ensemble requirements. This effort will provide the standards development committees the technical data and guidance needed to select the method and establish criteria in existing and future standards.

Development and validation of physiological performance models to correlate the effect of ensemble Total Heat Loss (THL)
The National Academies Evaluation
This project will study a thermal manikin and people wearing different types of emergency response protective clothing. The data can be used to develop and validate physiological performance models to link whether turnout gear total heat loss influences emergency responder performance. This effort will provide the standards organizations with a sound physiological basis for setting THL values in current and future PPE performance standards with a focus on CBRN standards

Creation of cumulative permeation test end points for Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs)
This project will develop a way to measure cumulative penetration of protective clothing materials and determine toxicity-based end point criteria for certain toxic industrial chemicals. This will produce recommended test procedures and end points based on cumulative skin exposure levels as are currently used for chemical warfare agents.

Fire Fighter Fatality and Investigation Program (FFFIPP) protective clothing evaluation

Next generation structural firefighting PPE ensemble
The overall goal of this research is to develop new materials and designs to produce a firefighting ensemble that will meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards 1971 and 1994. This research is important because current materials and ensemble designs, intended for fighting structural fires, do not provide the appropriate level of protection against chemical and biological agents associated with a terrorist attack.

NFPA Protective clothing and equipment standards development
This research works to continually improve emergency services personnel protective equipment (PPE) by revising existing standards and developing new standards. New material technologies and design configurations are considered, which can be driven by performance criteria mandated in PPE certification standards. The implementation of these National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) enhances worker safety and health hazard prevention.

Sizing Fire Fighters and Fire Apparatus: Safe by Design
The Sizing Firefighters: Method and Implications article provides the first available U.S. national firefighter anthropometric information for fire apparatus design as well as a comprehensive data process method to assist industry users with standards development. The data process method can aid not only with standards development, but the design of seat, seatbelt, structural firefighting gloves, fire truck cabs, and protective clothing.

Stored thermal energy in fire fighter protective garments
This research examines a “steam burn” or “stored energy burn”, which is burn to skin that does not result in physical damage to the turnout gear. It is believed that these burns occur when a fire fighter is exposed to thermal energies below flashover, which stores the thermal energy in the layers of the turnout gear. The burn occurs when these layers are pressed against the skin and thermal energy is transferred to the skin. The moisture level in the turnout gear and underclothing may contribute to the potential for stored thermal energy burns. This research is being done to understand why this type of burn injury occurs, develop a test apparatus and method to predict the likelihood of stored thermal energy burns, and to recommend adoption of the method.




Head Protection

Protective Clothing

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