STP900

    Protection Offered by Lightweight Clothing Materials to the Heat of a Fire

    Published: Jan 1986


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    Abstract

    Factors affecting the thermal performance of protective clothing are discussed in a general way, and a laboratory method of achieving heat absorption rates typical of those occurring during exposure to a large fire is described. Using this method, the strength retention of fabrics during short-term exposure at high heat flux levels has been found to depend on the temperature achieved at a given instant during exposure and to be independent of the mechanism of heat absorption. A comparison of the duration of exposure to high heat flux levels that causes various polymeric fabrics to lose most of their original strength or to autoignite predicts that such high-temperature materials as polybenzimidazole (PBI) and Nomex/Kevlar can provide a few extra seconds of protection against the extreme heat of a large fire.

    Some difficulties associated with the use of an instrumented skin-simulant device for determining the rate of conductive heat transfer through fabrics of various kinds during standard gas flame impingement tests are also discussed. There is, at present, no accurate way to translate temperatures measured at a depth of 500 μm in a fabric-covered skin simulant to temperatures appropriate for a depth of 80 μm, the skin depth to which clinical data regarding tissue damage are related. Until the conductive heat flow equation can be revised, ranking of fabrics by the maximum temperature achieved in the skin simulant remains the only reliable method of using data from this device.

    Keywords:

    protective clothing, fire, radiant heat, strength retention, ignition time, heat conduction, flame impingement, skin simulant


    Author Information:

    Schoppee, MM
    Senior research mathematician, research assistant, and associate director, Albany International Research Co., Dedham, MA

    Welsford, JM
    Senior research mathematician, research assistant, and associate director, Albany International Research Co., Dedham, MA

    Abbott, NJ
    Senior research mathematician, research assistant, and associate director, Albany International Research Co., Dedham, MA


    Paper ID: STP17327S

    Committee/Subcommittee: F23.96

    DOI: 10.1520/STP17327S


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