The Fire Protection Research Foundation is collaborating on a new project being led by International Personnel Protection, Inc. to develop new procedures to improve how barrier protective clothing for first responders is evaluated when limiting exposure to hazardous liquids. This project is funded by the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) of the Department of the Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO).
Many different types of protective clothing are required to prevent the penetration of various types of liquids, including hot water, fire ground chemicals, industrial chemicals, blood/body fluids, and even chemical or biological warfare agents. Requirements exist for characterizing how materials keep these substances from contacting the responder; the industry generally relies on full-scale product testing to assess full garments or ensembles. Currently, liquid integrity testing is performed on clothing that is placed on a mannequin and subjected to surfactant treated water spray from several nozzles over a specified period. The “shower” test as it has commonly been called has focused attention on garment design, particularly for closures and interfaces with other clothing items, but has also been criticized for being overly rigorous, lacking consistency, and making it difficult to identify failure modes.
The principle effort of the Improved Liquid Integrity Evaluation Techniques for First Responder Ensembles research project is to develop sensors to replace the subjective determinations of liquid penetration made as part of the current test. The outcome of this work will be recommendations for new test procedures for incorporation into various standards such as NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting and NFPA 1994, Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to CBRN Terrorism Incidents.
Video: Jeffrey Stull, president of International Personnel Protection, Inc., talks about the project.