A Post-use Evaluation of Turnout Gear Using NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and NFPA 1851 on Selection, Care and Maintenance
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The purpose of this research was to conduct a post-use evaluation of firefighter turnout gear that had been in use for time intervals between 2 years and retirement. Inspection and testing procedures as required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1851 Standard on Selection, Care and Maintenance of Structural Fire Fighting and NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting were followed. Sixty seven garments from career fire departments were evaluated during Phase I of the study; 76 garments from volunteer fire departments were evaluated during Phase II and during Phase III, 108 retired garments were evaluated. Visual assessments of the used garments included inspection of closure system functionality, light evaluation, leakage evaluation, and flashlight test. Composite performance assessments included thermal protective performance (TPP), total heat loss (THL), flammability, tear strength, seam strength, breaking strength and water penetration. The results of the visual inspection and performance testing of the turnout gear were used to determine if the current recommended 10 year wear life (retirement age) was appropriate. The results of the leakage evaluation did not validate similar results with water penetration testing. TPP, THL and flammability supported a wear life of at least 10 years; however, tear resistance, breaking strength, seam strength, and water penetration supported a wear life no greater than 10 years. The majority of garments tested met the flammability requirements mandated in NFPA 1971.
KeywordsTurnout gear Post use Firefighter Retirement NFPA standards
The author would like to acknowledge her major Professor, Dr. Elizabeth Easter, for her hard work and dedication to the study. She would like to acknowledge and thank the previous graduate students, Deena Cotterill and Stacy Trenkamp, for paving the path to complete the third phase of this study. The author would like to thank the following industry committee members: Rich Young, DuPont USA; Pat Freeman, Globe Manufacturing Company, LLC; Karen Lehtonen, Lion Apparel, Inc.; Tricia Hock, Safety Equipment Institute, Inc.; Deena Cotterill, VF Imagewear; and Stacy Klausing, ArcWear, for their support and commitment to this study.
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