NFPA Performance Requirements
All Fire-Dex products go through rigorous testing to be certified as NFPA Compliant. The testing and certification for NFPA compliance is always done by a 3rd party agency; mainly UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) which is now a subsidiary of ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials).
The following chart shows which NFPA standards our products are made to. Click on the NFPA Standard to learn more about that standard and the testing involved, or click on the Certified Products to learn more about its features and applications.
|NFPA Standard||Definition||Certified Products|
|Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting||All Fire-Dex Turnout Gear, Helmets, Boots, Hoods, Dex-Pro Gloves, and Chieftain Turnout Gear|
|Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents; Three Levels of Certification - (1)Utility, (2)Rescue & Recovery, and (3)CBRN||TECGEN PPE(1) and Fire-Dex USAR(2)|
|Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting||TECGEN PPE and Chieftain Wildland|
|Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical Operations||Para-Dex™ EMS and Fire-Dex USAR|
(Dual-certified products are listed under both applicable standards)
NFPA 1971 certification requires the greatest number of tests, across the widest range of protections (heat, flame, liquids, viral penetration, and durability tests). Whether it's your turnout gear, your boots or your gloves, rigorous tests are performed to ensure the product can withstand the extreme temperatures and the extreme beating they take when on the job.
Amongst the most well-known and discussed test results are Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) and Total Heat Loss (THL). All Turnout Gear fabric composites are tested and given a TPP & THL rating; a "composite" refers to the 3-layer combination of shell fabric, moisture barrier and thermal liner.
THERMAL PROTECTIVE PERFORMANCE (TPP)
The TPP test is done to simulate a flashover. Before the NFPA adopted this test in 1986, thermal protection was measured by the thickness of the 3 layers of fabric. The current test method measures the amount of time it takes for the flame's heat to pass through the 3 layers and cause a second degree burn. The minimum TPP score is 35, which based on the formula used, would mean it would take 17.5 seconds (2 cal/cm2-sec times 17.5).
TOTAL HEAT LOSS (THL)
THL measures the composite's ability to let both body heat and vapor escape. The NFPA did not require a THL test until the 2003 edition, mainly because there was no feasible test method. With overexertion/stress/medical still being the #1 cause of death of on-duty firefighters, it is obvious that this test is every bit as important as TPP. The minimum THL score is 205. Small differences in THL scores are usually unnoticeable to the wearer; it's suggested it takes a 20 to 25 point difference to actually be felt by the wearer.
There is usually an inverse relationship between TPP and THL; a thicker, heavier garment will have the highest Thermal Protective Performance but lower heat loss, and a thinner, lighter garment will have a higher THL rating, but will score lower on TPP.
When building your own custom turnout gear in FireWriter2, you can explore the TPP/THL ratings of different combinations of outer shell, thermal, and moisture barrier to find the composite that's right for you. The TPP/THL displays at the top of the screen, and as you play around with selecting different materials you can watch how the scores change.
When choosing the right composite for your department, it is important to keep in mind that the scores for a 3-layer composite can vary by several points from test to test as there can be fluctuations in fabric weights and other factors. There can be up to an 8% variance in TPP results and a 10% variance in THL results.
In addition to TPP, there are many other tests performed to the materials and the entire ensemble to ensure protection against heat and flame. There are also several tests for overall durability such as seam strength, abrasion resistance, and tear resistance tests.
Click to expand the following section to learn more about all the tests Turnout Gear must pass to be NFPA 1971 certified.
Helmets, Hoods, Gloves & Boots
From head to toe, every article of PPE worn by a firefighter is held to the high standards of NFPA 1971.
Each item undergoes different tests that are designed to mimic how that specific product is used in the field. Testing in multiple scenarios and simulating realistic conditions is vital to ensuring the product will protect the firefighter on the job and perform correctly in every possible situation.
Just like Turnout Gear, all NFPA 1971 certified products are tested to ensure protection from heat and flame, in addition to tests for durability, safety, and function.
Expand the following sections to learn more about the tests each item must pass to be NFPA 1971 certified.
There are 3 other NFPA standards for non-structural protective apparel; NFPA 1999 for EMS, NFPA 1977 for Wildland, and NFPA 1951 for Technical Rescue. These standards ensure the garments will protect the wearer from the specific hazards present in their job.
While Structural Turnout Gear does provide protection from most hazards a first responder encounters, it is primarily designed to protect during the worst case scenario of an interior flashover condition. It may not be the best choice for the other 90% of calls that do not involve interior firefighting. That's why there are other lines of function-specific PPE that are much lighter, more breathable and can cost a fraction of the price of Turnout Gear.
The Fire-Dex Family of Brands is proud to offer multiple lines of function-specific PPE that provide the protection needed on specific jobs without the additional thermal insulation. Our function-specific PPE includes dual-certified garments, meaning they are certified to 2 different NFPA standards. Dual-certified garments are very versatile, offering the protection needed on a wider range of calls, minimizing costly wear and tear on higher-priced turnouts, maximizing your department's budget. Another advantage to having this type of gear as an alternative to your turnouts is its role in helping to prevent cancer; learn more about this research here.
NFPA 1951 - Technical Rescue Gear
This standard was initially formed for USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) gear, and was based on the 1993 U.S. Fire Administration Study “Protective Clothing and Equipment Needs of Emergency Responders for Urban Search and Rescue Missions” published by FEMA.
In the 2nd Edition, this standard was renamed and broken down in to 3 different types of "Technical Rescue" gear. The 1st level being a "utility ensemble" that's incredibly breathable as to avoid heat stress and exhaustion, yet still provides an outer layer of protection and flame resistance. The 2nd level is a "rescue and recovery ensemble", providing the same protection as the first but including a blood-borne-pathogen barrier. The Fire-Dex Family of Brands manufacture gear certified to the 1st and 2nd level. The third level in the standard is a CBRN ensemble.
NFPA 1977 - Wildland Gear
The NFPA 1977 Standard focuses on keeping the wearer from overheating while still providing heat and flame resistance.
The 1977 standard was created specifically to combat heat stress in wildland firefighting, based on the original Wildland subcomittee's findings in 1989 that the majority of firefighters' injuries were related to heat stress during these types of operations.
To learn more about the tests and performance standards required for NFPA 1977 certification, expand the NFPA 1951, 1977, & 1999 Comparison chart above.
NFPA 1999 - EMS Gear
Gear built to this standard is primarily designed to protect emergency medical staff from liquid-borne pathogens/bloodborne pathogens (BBP), and bodily fluids. This NFPA standard also includes that the garment must meet the performance requirements outlined in the OSHA Final Rule, Protecting Health Care Workers from Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.
As with other NFPA standards for PPE, 1999 also has performance requirements related to the strength and durability of the garment, physical hazard resistance and liquid-tight integrity, however unlike the other, 1999 does not require any flame protection. Expand the chart below to learn more about the required performance measures for NFPA 1999-certified PPE.