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Title:Characterizing a Firefighter’s Immediate Thermal Environment in Live-Fire Training Scenarios
Author(s):Willi, Joseph M.; Horn, Gavin P.; Madrzykowski, Daniel
Life safety
Firefighting research
Heat flux
Live fire training
Personal protective equipment
Abstract:Detailed characterization of a firefighter’s typical thermal exposures during live-fire training and responses can provide important insights into the risks faced and the necessary protections, protocols, and standards required. In order to gather data on representative thermal conditions from a firefighter’s continually varying local environment in a live-fire training exercise, a portable heat flux and gas temperature measurement system was created, calibrated, and integrated into firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE). Data were collected from 25 live-fire training exposures during seven different types of scenarios. Based on the collected data, mild training environments generally exposed firefighters to temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius and heat fluxes around 1 kW/m2, while severe training conditions generally resulted in temperatures between 150 degrees Celsius and 200 degrees Celsius with heat fluxes between 3 kW/m2 and 6 kW/m2. For every scenario investigated, the heat flux data portrayed a more severe environment than the temperature data when interpreted using established thermal classes developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology for electronic equipment used by first responders. Local temperatures from the portable measurement system were compared with temperatures measured by stationary thermocouples installed in the training structure for 14 different exposures. It was determined the stationary temperatures represented only a rough approximate bound of the actual temperature of the immediate training environment due to the typically coarse distribution of these sensors throughout the structure and their relative (fixed) distance from the fire sets. The portable thermal measurement system has provided new insights into the integration of electronic sensors with firefighter PPE and the conditions experienced by firefighters in live-fire training scenarios, which has promise to improve the safety and health of the fire service.
Issue Date:2016
Publisher:Fire Technology
Citation Info:Willi, J.M., Horn, G.P. & Madrzykowski, D. Fire Technol (2016) 52: 1667.
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-11-13

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  • IFSI Research
    This collection contains research publications from IFSI Research at the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

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