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Development of non-destructive test methods for assessment of in-use fire fighter's protective clothing



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The very nature of the fire fighting environment makes thermal degradation of turnout gear inevitable. Standards that are currently in place to ensure that new gear performs adequately for the protection of the fire fighter do not provide a quantitative measure for assessing this gear once it is in service. When the performance of the gear is compromised due to degradation, it could put the fire fighter wearing the gear at unnecessary risk. A non-destructive test that indicates the end of the useable service of the garment would be a benefit to the fire service. Full scale fire tests were conducted to suggest a range of heat fluxes that turnout gear specimens should be subjected to in order to simulate degradation caused by in-field use of the gear. A series of destructive tests were conducted on exposed specimens. A number of non-destructive tests were performed on the same specimens. The results of destructive and non-destructive tests were compared. This research explored some options for non-destructive tests of turnout gear. Digital image analysis and colorimetry were both offered as possibilities for a diagnostic test of this gear. Correlations between destructive performance tests and the colour changes of the outer shell fabric could be used to develop non-destructive tests to evaluate every garment owned by a department. More work is required to improve these test methods, but the door has been opened to better testing for in-use gear, and ultimately to provide better protection for the fire fighters who use this clothing.



non-destructive testing, digital image analysis, full scale fire tests, turnout gear, degradation, heat transfer, fire fighter, protective clothing



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


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