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System integration of fire fighters' protective clothing requires the harmonious design of the coat, pants, helmet, boots, gloves, and breathing apparatus. Similarly, all clothing layers require a functional integration of characteristics such as resistance to cuts and punctures, mobility, waterproofness, fit, and durability. Thermal protective performance (TPP) rating analyses of several hundred protective clothing combinations have also shown the importance of thermally matching the vapor barrier and thermal liner under the outer protective shell. Inappropriate vapor barrier or thermal liner materials will melt under a Nomex III (95% Nomex 1/5% Kevlar) or polybenzimida-zole (PBI) outer shell if the thermal load is sufficient. TPP instrumentation permits moisture to be added to ensemble materials in order to assess the thermal merits of clothing combinations under operationally relevant fire fighting conditions. TPP data are presented to illustrate the protective merits of thermally integrating the clothing materials in structural fire fighters' clothing.
protective clothing, thermal, thermal protection, fire fighters' clothing
President, Biotherm, Inc., Beavercreek, Oh