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.
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.
- Field evaluation of a new prototype self-contained breathing apparatus (2011)
- NIOSH Fact Sheet: What’s Special About CBRN Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)? (2011) Publication No. 2011-183
- NIOSH Fact Sheet: NIOSH Approval Labels—Key Information to Protect Yourself (2011) Publication No. 2011-179
- APR cartridge performance evaluation for firefighting (2008)
- Method development study for APR cartridge evaluation in fire overhaul exposures (2007)
- FDA AND NIOSH Public Health Notification: Oxygen Regulator Fires Resulting from Incorrect Use of CGA 870 Seals (2006)
- Occupational burns from oxygen resuscitator fires: the hazard of aluminum regulators (2002)
- SCBA oximetry for fire fighter physiologic monitoring (2002)
- Fire incidents involving regulators used in portable oxygen systems (2001)
- Effects of a Nosecup on Inspired Carbon Dioxide Concentration and Service Time in Selected Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (1996)
- Health Hazard Evaluation: HETA 94-0244-2431 Memphis Fire Department, Memphis, Tennessee (1994)
- Health Hazard Evaluation: HETA 93-0040-2315 Anchorage Fire Department, Anchorage, Alaska (1993)
- NIOSH warns workers about explosive respirator cylinders (1993)
- Visual Inspection And Laboratory Test Report On U.S. Divers Survivair Respirator (1981)
- Developing SCBA Mechanical Stress Resistance Tests for Firefighting (1981)
- A profile of thermal imaging camera ownership in the United States Fire Service (Research Symposium 2003)
- Fire fighter visibility: which way is out? (Research Symposium 2003)
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.
- Current status, knowledge gaps, and research needs pertaining to fire fighter radio communication systems (2003)
- Functional Safety for Programmable Electronics Used in PPE: Best Practice Recommendations (2003)
- Report a Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) malfunction or failure [PDF 18 KB, 2 pages]
- NIOSH Fact Sheet: Exploding flashlights: Are they a serious threat to worker safety? (1997) Publication No. 97-149
- Effect of boot weight and material on gait characteristics of men and women fire fighters (Research Symposium 2008)
- Glove fit for firefighters – an accommodation comparison between U.S. NFPA 1971 and European EN 659 glove size schemes with a contemporary (CAESAR) anthropometric hand size database (Conference Proceedings 2004)
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.
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.
- NIOSH Research Improves Equipment Design to Protect Firefighters (2015)
- Seat and seatbelt accommodation in fire apparatus: anthropometric aspects (2015)
- Effect of boot weight and material on gait characteristics of men and women fire fighters (2012)
- Firefighters’ physiological responses to boot weight and sole flexibility during ladder climbing and obstacle crossing (2010)
- Physiological effects of boot weight and design on men and women firefighters (2010)
- Physiological consequences of leather and rubber boots in men and women firefighters (2007)
- A Report On The Performance Of Firefighters’ Helmets (1976)
- Industrial and Firefighter’s Safety Helmet Test Procedures (1976)
- Development of criteria for industrial and firefighters’ head protective devices (1975)
- Firefighter hand anthropometry and structural glove sizing: a new perspective (2015)
- Comparison of measured and self-reported anthropometric information among firefighters: implications and applications (2015)
- Sizing firefighters: method and implications (2015)
- Interlaboratory study of ASTM F2731, Standard test method for measuring the transmitted and stored energy of firefighter protective clothing systems (2012)
- Effects of liquid cooling garments on recovery and performance time in individuals performing strenuous work wearing a firefighter ensemble (2011) View video
- Physiological responses to wearing a prototype firefighter ensemble compared with a standard ensemble (2011)
- A health hazard evaluation of antimony exposure in fire fighters (2010)
- Effects of fire fighter protective ensembles on mobility and performance (2010)
- The rate of body heat storage in subjects wearing a prototype firefighter ensemble (2010)
- Cardiovascular responses to five cooling strategies wearing a prototype firefighter ensemble (2010)
- Effects of cooling on performance time and recovery in individuals wearing a prototype firefighter ensemble (2010)
- Physiological monitoring in firefighter ensembles: wearable plethysmographic sensor vest versus standard equipment (2010) View video
- Ergonomic comparison of a chem/bio prototype firefighter ensemble and standard ensemble (2008)
- Project HEROES (Homeland Emergency Response Operational and Equipment Systems) Task 1: A review of modern fire service hazard and protection needs (2003) [PDF 1017 KB, 128 pages]
- Impact of a design modification in modern firefighting uniforms on burn prevention outcomes in New York City firefighters (2000)
- Federal certification of personal protective equipment and clothing for firefighters and emergency response personnel (1997)
- Work tolerance and subjective responses to wearing protective clothing and respirators during physical work (1989)
- Physiological responses to the wearing of fire fighter’s turnout gear with neoprene and GORE-TEX barrier liners (1988)
- Reduced work tolerance associated with wearing protective clothing and respirators (1987)
- Page last reviewed: June 21, 2017
- Page last updated: June 21, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies (DSHEFS)