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U. S. Navy fire fighters routinely confront both thermal and chemical hazards during emergency response operations. To provide protection in these situations, a program was undertaken to develop, design, and fabricate fully-integrated protective ensembles that would provide protection against both thermal and chemical hazards. The program was divided into three phases--(1) surveying the protective clothing industry to identify candidate materials or material combinations based on requirements taken from existing National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards on protective clothing for structural fire fighting, proximity fire fighting, and hazardous chemical liquid splash protection; (2) developing new material and optimizing material combinations, and (3) fabricating prototype clothing ensembles using selected materials. The first phase provided a comprehensive survey of the thermal and chemical protective materials with testing of individual layers to fill in missing performance data. The second phase examined different combinations of existing materials to optimize the overall material configuration in terms of protection performance, comfort, fabrication feasibility and cost. This included the combination of radiant and chemical layers into a new single material. Of the material combinations examined, a 3-layer system with an inter-changeable outer shell was selected and used in the construction of prototype garments. The ensuing design was qualified to each of the three NFPA standards.
Structural fire fighting, proximity fire fighting, hazardous chemical response, turnout gear, splash suit, thermal protective performance, radiant protective performance, chemical penetration resistance
President, International Personnel Protection, Inc., Austin, TX
Research Associate, TRI/Environmental Inc., Austin, TX
Program Manager, U.S. Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility, Natick, MA