A study was made of standards published since 1970 for firemen's protective clothing. In addition, the state of the art in material science from the early 1960's through 1986, relating to protective clothing, was examined, including testing techniques and development of fire-resistant materials. Studies were performed in conjunction with the remains of protective clothing and equipment exposed to a flashover during residence fire.
The authors conclude that the standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Association, the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration do not correlate with the foreseeable exposure temperatures in a burning structure. The materials currently used by fire fighters cannot withstand the extreme heat conditions generated by a flashover. Based upon the findings of the authors, it is necessary to continue to upgrade the preexisting minimum standards to incorporate the state of the art available for protective clothing and equipment.
Upgrading existing standards to reflect the level of available technology would lead to significant improvements in the design and construction of protective gear. In turn, this would result in greater safety for firemen caught in catastrophic fires by reducing foreseeable thermal exposure injury.