Fire Prevention & Safety Research and Development Grants - 2010 Grant Awards

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Fiscal Year (FY) 2010

Fire Prevention Grant
Project Title:Balancing Heat Stress and Thermal Protective Performance in Wildland Firefighters
Organization:North Carolina State University
Principle Investigator:Roger Barker, Ph.D
Grant Number:EMW-2010-FP-01575
Award Total:$999,993.00
Period of Performance:06/12/2011 – 06/11/2013
Grant Status:Closed


ABSTRACT


Relevance:
Wildland firefighter protective clothing provides a barrier to help prevent burn injuries but at the same time increases heat stress during fire fighting operations. Obtaining the optimum balance between thermal protection and thermal comfort in wildland firefighter protective clothing promotes effective and safer wildland firefighting.


Purpose:
The present standard test methods that rely on evaluation of flat material samples are not as accurate or complete as evaluations of the entire ensemble in determining the optimum balance between thermal protective performance and reduced heat stress of wildland firefighter protective clothing. The purpose of this project is to develop and demonstrate new full garment level testing technologies and to produce the associated knowledge basis needed to overcome the limitations of present test methods.


Methods:
The relationships between the breathability of protective clothing materials and heat stress will be established using an advanced sweating manikin and physiological wear trials. A newly developed radiant protective performance (RPP) test will provide more accurate assessment of protection against radiant heat exposures relevant to wildland fire fighting operations. The RadMan Instrumented Manikin Fire Test System will be developed to enable garment level assessment of thermal protective performance in radiant heat exposures. These testing methodologies will be incorporated in a series of integrated thermal comfort and heat protection studies made on a systematically selected set of wildland firefighter protective clothing. This research will be coordinated with ongoing field testing being conducted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).


Projected Results and Conclusions:
The combined technical data bases from measurements made in this project will result in quantification of the balance between thermal comfort and hazardous heat protection that greatly exceeds anything that has ever been available for wildland protective gear. The results will be made available to the technical committee considering changes for the next edition of the NFPA 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, in requirements for heat stress, or total heat loss (THL) and radiant protective performance (RPP). CAL FIRE will assist in the widespread dissemination of the results of this project throughout the wildland fire fighting community.


REPORTS and RESOURCES


  • NCSU Scientists Get Grant to Help Firefighters, News 14 Carolina, August 10, 2011 (Click Here)
  • NCSU Researchers Receive $1 Million Grant to Evaluate Wildland Fire Fighting Gear, Textile World News, July 19, 2011 (Click Here)
  • Research Hopes to Improve Suits For Fighting Wildfires, NCSU News Release, July 13, 2011 (Click Here)

 

Last Updated: 
03/28/2014 - 12:21