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...
How to care for garments that have been exposed to soot, smoke and toxic substances

How to care for garments that have been exposed to soot, smoke and toxic substances

Firefighters can better protect themselves by practicing wet-soap decon practices and other advanced cleaning procedures as outlined in NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. Plus, they can also tap into many free online resources offered by companies like Globe. Learn more from Gavin Horn, director of research at the Illinois Fire Service Institute, about research that defines decon best practices on reducing exposure to toxic substances, and from Pat Freeman, technical services manager for...
Two More Recipients Announced in 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Two More Recipients Announced in 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

  Globe and DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), is awarding 13 fire departments with a total of 52 sets of life-saving turnout gear in 2018 through the Globe Gear Giveaway. The program is designed to help fire departments with limited budgets who struggle to maintain adequate protection for their personnel. The latest recipients are the Burnettsville (IN) Volunteer Fire Department and the Pattonsburg (MO) Fire and Rescue Protection District. Burnettsville (IN) Volunteer Fire Department The Burnettsville Volunteer Fire Department serves 2,000 residents over 15 square miles. The department has 11 active volunteers who respond to roughly 70 calls a year. All but three firefighters use turnout gear that is more than 10 years old, which is considered unsafe according to national standards. With a limited budget, the department struggles to get funding for new gear and equipment but continues to be active in the community with fire prevention and life safety education at their local school as well as community days and other events. “Our goal is to assist the people of our community in a safe and timely manner,” said Burnettsville Firefighter Michael Capitanio. “With out-of-date gear, we are risking more than we would in normal emergency operations. This new gear will go a long way in helping us to reach that goal and improve the safety of our firefighters.” Pattonsburg (MO) Fire and Rescue Protection District The Pattonsburg Fire and Rescue Protection District has 22 volunteer firefighters who protect a population of 1,900 on nearly 130 square miles. The Pattonsburg community rests next to the heavily traveled Interstate 35...
It’s in the smoke: cancer-causing compounds and contaminates

It’s in the smoke: cancer-causing compounds and contaminates

Every firefighter today should know that smoke is dangerous. However, the visible particles of combustion that we see as smoke are just the tip of the fire scene contamination iceberg. There are several toxic substances and carcinogens firefighters need to be aware of and protect against present in smoke. We are now learning that firefighters and fire investigators need nothing less than the maximum level of respiratory protection during fire overhaul activities. The typical structure fire today involves the high temperature destruction of many types of plastics, foams, various species of wood, fabrics and other materials. Gases and particulates liberated from these burning materials often contain toxic, reactive and otherwise unhealthy chemicals that are both inhalation hazards and skin absorption hazards. Phoenix exposure study Researchers from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University collaborated with the Phoenix (Ariz.) Fire Department in a study to characterize firefighter exposures during fire overhaul operations at 25 structure fires. During those overhaul evaluations, air quality monitoring found the following substances or compounds exceeded published ceiling values promulgated at the time by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Acrolein. Acrolein produces intense irritation to the eye and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Acute exposures may result in bronchial inflammation, resulting in bronchitis or pulmonary edema. CO. CO is present in all fire environments as a product of incomplete combustion and decreases the oxygen transport of the blood, which results in an inadequate supply of oxygen to the tissues. Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is classified as a probable carcinogen and adverse health effects due to...
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...
Departments in OR and VT Receive Turnouts through the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Departments in OR and VT Receive Turnouts through the 2018 Globe Gear Giveaway

Thanks to Globe by MSA and DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), two more fire departments are each receiving four new sets of state-of-the-art turnout gear. Since 2012, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has annually partnered with Globe and DuPont to provide volunteer fire departments in need with new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to better protect our nation’s responders. The latest recipients are the Gardiner (OR) Rural Fire Department and the Salisbury (VT) Volunteer Fire Department. Gardiner (OR) Rural Fire Department Gardiner is a small community of 425 residents on the coast of Oregon. The department’s 10 firefighters make do with turnout gear that is nearly 20 years old and doesn’t comply with industry standards. The town papermill had supplied Gardiner’s firefighters with some gear, but the closing of the mill has left the department to rely solely on tax dollars. The department often hosts fundraising breakfasts and dinners to raise money but is unable to purchase new gear on its current budget. “We are volunteers, we are here to serve and protect our residents and surrounding area, and we are dedicated to what we do,” said Chief John Swann. “Receiving the Globe gear will really help build morale amongst my crew and improve safety. Thank you very much for thinking of our [volunteer] departments.” Salisbury (VT) Volunteer Fire Department Located in the foothills of the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department protects 1,500 residents over 30 square miles. Only half of the department’s 20 firefighters have turnout gear at all. Those who do are wearing gear that is over 10 years old, making them unsafe according to...