Functional Design of Structural Firefighter Clothing Systems for Improved Comfort
Over 50% of firefighter injuries and fatalities are due to heat exhaustion. To reduce incidents of heat strain and improve the comfort of structural firefighter turnout suits, the functional design process was used. Specifically, such tools as an interaction matrix and digital logic decision making tables further informed the incorporation of multiple design specifications for improved functionality. Design modifications explored included clothing ventilation, systems modularity, strategic layer reductions, and air gap volume analysis (using 3D body scanning). Full garment prototypes were developed and evaluated for manikin total heat loss (THL) according to ASTM F 1291 and 2370. Physiological responses were predicted using human thermal modeling software. Results demonstrated increased manikin THL for the modular, vented, and revolutionary turnout prototypes, compared to a control suit. Predicted physiological responses also demonstrated meaningful benefits for these prototype suits. Further research is necessary on the human wear level to measure the physiological responses of firefighters.