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16-11-2019 | Issue 3/2020

Fire Technology 3/2020

A Survey of Structural Firefighter Station Wear in the United States

Journal:
Fire Technology > Issue 3/2020
Author:
Meredith McQuerry
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Abstract

Structural turnout gear is essential for the safety of firefighters. The station wear, or clothing worn underneath the structural turnout suit, contributes to the thermal protection and performance of the overall ensemble. Depending on the fiber content and material fabrication, base layer garments may increase the risk of potential burn injuries. The purpose of this research was to evaluate National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1975 certified, certified flame resistant, and non-certified station wear garments in relation to firefighter burn injuries while worn under a NFPA 1971 structural firefighting ensemble. An information-gathering questionnaire was distributed nationwide with over 1800 active-duty United States firefighting personnel responding to questions regarding the selection and use of their station wear. Responses concerning the thermoplastic nature of base layer materials, the design and configuration of how base layers are worn, and the overall satisfaction with the performance of certified versus non-certified station wear were gathered. Questionnaire responses determined 80% of participants were aware of the overall risk of wearing non-certified base layer garments (i.e. synthetics that will melt or drip); however, 45% of career firefighters indicated they were not required to wear certified or flame resistant station wear. Regional analysis of the responses was performed. Findings of this research will educate the fire service and inform NFPA standards committees. Further, this study supports the need for future research to develop station wear garments with improved burn injury protection, thermal comfort, and ergonomic mobility.

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