Research to Improve Turnout Gear for Women

Research to Improve Turnout Gear for Women

By Susan Sokolowski, PhD – Director & Associate Professor, Sports Product Design, at University of Oregon Portland and Linsey Griffin, PhD – Assistant Professor Wearable Product Design, Human Dimensioning Lab at the College of Design, University of Minnesota The Size FF Research project is sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (https://www.nimss.org/projects/view/mrp/outline/18359) and consists of academic experts from the fields of anthropometrics and product design. The group’s focus since 1982 has been on the development of better performing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). iWomen Partnership Through a partnership with the 2018 International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen) conference directors, the research team adopted a user-centered approach to understand the PPE needs of female firefighters. A protocol was developed to collect 3D scans of the hands and feet, along with 1:1 interviews where female firefighter attendees shared information about their experience as firefighters and the practice of using turnout gear (coats, pants, glove, boots, and accessories). User-Centered Approach The user-centered approach considers the user (e.g. firefighter) throughout the research and design process, so their input is always considered (Vos, 2009). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), through their standard 9241-210, have published principles regarding using a human-centered design process. Those principles include: 1. The design is based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks, and environments. 2. Users are involved throughout design and development. 3. The design is driven and refined by user-centered evaluation. 4. The process is iterative. 5. The design addresses the whole user experience. 6. The design team includes multi-disciplinary skills and perspectives (ISO, 2010). The benefits of a user-centered approach have been proven to produce...
The Continuing Debate on Turnout Gear Service Life

The Continuing Debate on Turnout Gear Service Life

Over the past several years, we have written various columns associated with the care and maintenance of firefighter protective clothing and equipment. One of the perennial issues on this topic has been gear service life. In many cases, this particular topic has been a subject of polarization among the fire service, particularly when it comes to firefighter helmets. In this month’s column, we attempt to shed more light on this topic to allow fire departments and individual firefighters to make better informed choices with respect to their gear service life. All clothing and equipment have a finite service life. For the most part, turnout gear is designed to be quite durable, made with rugged materials that are intended to repeatedly provide protection under a wide range of varying exposure conditions. By definition, service life is the length of time that clothing and equipment can remain in service while still providing a minimum level of protection. Nevertheless, even brand new gear that is subject to a serious fire event can require immediate retirement. Similarly, gear that is abused or improperly cared for can also lead to a shortened service life. The interpretation of service life will further depend on an individual organization’s understanding of what factors constitute continued safe usability of clothing and equipment, which can also be influenced by available resources. Yet, since 2008, NFPA 1851: Selection, Care and Maintenance of Structural Firefighting Protective Clothing has imposed a 10-year service life limit based on the element manufacturing date for any structural firefighting ensemble element, including garments, helmets, gloves, footwear and hoods. The reality of turnout gear service life Every...
3 Scientific Tests Prove Globe Boots with Arctic Grip Pro Soles Improve Your Safety

3 Scientific Tests Prove Globe Boots with Arctic Grip Pro Soles Improve Your Safety

  Are you prepared for cold weather calls? What you put on your feet really makes a difference where your safety is concerned. While no footwear can eliminate all slips and falls, Arctic Grip Pro soles on Globe’s athletic construction boots take firefighter footwear to the highest level of performance and safety available. Arctic Grip Pro is state-of-the-art sole technology specifically engineered by Vibram to perform on wet ice. A combination of the highest performing rubber outsole compound and an advanced filler system, Arctic Grip Pro soles provide unparalleled traction on wet ice. In collaboration with Vibram, we undertook three scientific tests to prove that our Globe boots with the new soles can help to reduce slips and falls in cold and wet conditions. Incline Ramp Test: Wet Independent testing was conducted by scientists and engineers of the iDAPT Research team at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) of Toronto. TRI has a unique set of testing facilities whereby they can mechanically pitch, up to 20 degrees, an entire room that has been conditioned to form ice. In this environment, the test protocol requires the tester to repeatedly ascend and descend the icy surface to the maximum angle achievable. TRI tested Globe footwear outfitted with Vibram Arctic Grip Pro and other styles and brands of cold weather footwear. Conclusion: The data reflected an eight times increase in the combined incline and decline angle achieved with footwear outfitted with Arctic Grip Pro. Load Cell Test Vibram conducted a load cell test, which was developed to test Arctic Grip Pro in real life situations. Ice is formed on a surface where a...
Globe Discusses PPE on iWomen Talk Radio Show

Globe Discusses PPE on iWomen Talk Radio Show

  Globe was invited to participate in a talk radio show hosted by the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services to discuss the importance of personal protective equipment. Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager, and Stephanie McQuade, Globe Marketing Services Manager, addressed the construction and materials for turnout gear, proper care and cleaning, and the importance of being fitted correctly for PPE. Other guests included Linsey Griffin, Assistant Professor Wearable Product Design, Human Dimensioning Lab at the College of Design, University of Minnesota and Susan Sokolowski, Director & Associate Professor, Sports Product Design, at University of Oregon Portland. They spoke about their women’s PPE research project with a group of 12 universities in the United States. Listen to the talk radio show on FireEngineering.com An interactive non-profit network, International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Service (iWomen) provides education, support and advocacy for fire service women. For more information, visit...
Globe Invited to Attend Firefighter Physiological Monitoring Technology Summit

Globe Invited to Attend Firefighter Physiological Monitoring Technology Summit

Globe has been invited to attend the Firefighter Physiological Monitoring Technology Summit being held March 28-30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The Summit is presented by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Skidmore College’s SMARTER (Science, Medicine, Research, Technology for Emergency Responders) program and will present groundbreaking information on the emerging field of firefighter wearable technology. Three specific areas will be addressed: The use of wearable ECG technology to detect early signs of cardiac events following firefighting or training exercises; The use of algorithms to estimate core temperature to reduce the risk of heat related injuries and fatalities; The use of low cost, portable technology to monitor air contamination levels on the fireground and in structures post fire. Important information for the fire service will be disseminated through the marketing channels of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Skidmore College SMARTER program. The ultimate goal of the SMARTER study going on now through most of 2018 is to reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities through the appropriate implementation of technology. Firefighters in the study are wearing shirts designed by Globe that incorporate a physiologic status monitoring system developed by Zephyr. The firefighters wear the Globe shirts throughout their 24-hour shifts and physiologic data such as heart rate, estimated core body temperature, respiration rate, ECG, movement, and more are recorded via electronic modules that are snapped into the shirts. The data shows the impact of live field operations on their bodies. This research is being led by Skidmore College with collaborative support from University of California at Los Angeles, University of Illinois Fire Service Institute, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental...
New download: 10 Considerations Related to Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks

New download: 10 Considerations Related to Cardiovascular and Chemical Exposure Risks

Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the hazards associated with structural firefighting. A research team recently conducted a large-scale, comprehensive study to better understand how operating in an environment typical of today’s fireground impacts cardiovascular events and chemical exposures related to carcinogenic risk. The team consisted of the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with support from Globe and academic researchers from Skidmore College and University of Illinois Chicago. During this study, the following were measured: The production of heat, gases, and particulates in the fire environment; Contamination of firefighters’ PPE and skin; Absorption of that contamination into the firefighters’ bodies; Heat stress and cardiovascular responses; How these variables were influenced by tactical decisions (interior only vs. transitional attack), operating location (inside ¬fire suppression/search vs. outside command/vent vs. overhaul); and Effectiveness of mitigation techniques (skin cleaning, gross decon, off-gassing). Based on findings from the study, the research team identified 10 key considerations related to cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks, broken into three categories: Tactical Considerations Related to Occupant Exposure 1. Getting water on the fire 2. The value of the hollow core door 3. VEIS from the inside? Exposure Considerations for Outside and Overhaul Operations 4. Heat stress during outside vent and overhaul 5. Hydrogen cyanide exposure to outside vent crews 6. High concentrations of PAHs and particulate exposure on the fireground Cleaning and Decontamination Considerations after the Fire 7. PPE and skin contamination 8. Gross decontamination 9. Hood laundering 10. PPE off-gassing For details about these 10 considerations, suggested...