The NFPA technical committee on Firefighter's Protective Clothing and Equipment desired, as part of its process for revising NFPA 1971 (1991 edition), to incorporate a performance requirement and test method to address the heat stress associated with wearing firefighter's turnout clothing. The heat stress caused by wearing these ensembles has been a well known, well documented and continuing problem.
A task force was formed to develop a test methodology that would be capable of evaluating turnout clothing composites and that would be relatable to the heat stress levels of the respective composites. It would need to be able to discriminate among ensembles, be sensitive in the range of interest, and be sufficiently reproducible from lab to lab to allow a performance requirement to be established that could be verified by independent testing. It was also desired that the results could be easily understood by the fire service.
The task force developed a method based on the guarded sweating hot plate and showed via round robin testing among four labs of four commonly used composites that it could meet all the desired objectives. Unfortunately, the work was not complete in time to include in the revision and was retained as an appendix.
This paper discusses the alternatives available to the committee and task force and the rationale for the development of the method. Some explanatory language was included as a preamble to the method to help put the results in the appropriate context and to help guard against promotional abuse.