Effects of firefighter hood design, laundering, and doffing journal article published in Ergonomics.
The firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) ensemble is designed to protect firefighters from an array of hazards. Protecting the neck and head regions is particularly challenging as thin dermal layers and vasculature may be subject to elevated thermal conditions. The relatively thin skin in the neck region provides an area where transdermal absorption of products of combustion may be important. However, maintaining the ability to dissipate internally generated heat through the head and necessary range of motion of head is critical for firefighter safety. Thus, the balance between protection (from fireground particulate and elevated environmental temperatures) and wearability (e.g. thermal perceptions, comfort, breathability, impact on range of motion) must be understood.
Effects of firefighting hood design, laundering and doffing on smoke protection, heat stress, and wearability summarizes the results from a study to determine how the impact of 1) hood design (traditional knit hood vs particulate-blocking hood), 2) repeated laundering (new hood vs exposed to smoke and laundered 40 times), and 3) hood removal method (traditional doffing vs overhead doffing) on a) protection from contamination depositing on the neck, b) physiological responses related to heat stress and c) firefighters’ self-reported perceptions of wearability.
Important take away messages from this paper:
- The addition of a particulate-blocking layer to firefighters’ traditional two-ply hood was found to reduce the PAH contamination reaching the neck but did not affect heat stress measurements or thermal perceptions.
- Modifying the process for hood removal resulted in a larger reduction in neck skin contamination than the PPE design modification.
This manuscript is derived from our PPE Cleaning study, a component of the larger Cardiovascular & Chemical Exposure Risks in Today’s Fire Service project. It also provides data from PPE design elements tested in the Firefighter Exposure Simulator (FES) props. For more information on the FES, read the Development of Fireground Exposure Simulator (FES) Prop for PPE Testing and Evaluation article.
UL FSRI partnered with Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI Research), the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), North Carolina State University (NC State) and Globe fire suits (now MSA) to conduct this research. Funding for this project was provided by the Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant #EMW-2015-FP-00646.
The journal Ergonomics is an international refereed publication, with a 60 year tradition of disseminating high quality research. Original submissions, both theoretical and applied, are invited from across the subject, including physical, cognitive, organizational and environmental ergonomics. Papers reporting the findings of research from cognate disciplines are also welcome, where these contribute to understanding equipment, tasks, jobs, systems and environments and the corresponding needs, abilities and limitations of people.
All published research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees.