PPE Training Guide – Thermal Performance and Limitations of Bunker Gear
Fire Engineering Training Digest – PPE Training Guide
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Thermal Performance and Limitations of Bunker Gear – Article Highlight #2
Structural firefighters’ protective clothing is designed to protect its wearers from the thermal environments experienced during firefighting. This includes protection from thermal radiation, hot gas convection, and head conducted from hot surfaces. Protective clothing may respond differently to each of these three modes of heat transfer (radiation, convection, and conduction). Firefighters may receive serious burn injuries from each of these three modes of heat transfer or a combination of them even though they are wearing protective clothing and may be a significant distance from a fire. The reason for this is that protective clothing has definite physical limits to its ability to protect the wearer. All thermal protective clothing has these limits, which are measurable.
About the Author:
J. Randall Lawson is a physical scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Building and Fire Research Laboratory. He has studied fire and fire safety for more than 25 years. He is the project leader for the Fire Safety Engineering Division studies on firefighter protective clothing. He is a member of the NFPA Technical Committees: Structural Fire Fighter Protective Clothing and Equipment, Special Operations Protective Clothing, and Equipment and Fire Tests.
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