On October 17, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is hosting “Female Firefighter Personal Protective Clothing: Investigation of Design, Comfort, and Mobility Issues,” a free one-day webinar that will address the critical link between job performance and proper-fitting of Personal Protection Clothing (PPC) for structural and wildland female firefighters.
The webinar will be hosted by Dr. Meredith McQuerry, associate professor, Florida State University and Dr. Cassandra Kwon, research assistant professor, North Carolina State University, who conducted a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. female structural and wildland firefighters and their garments. The survey revealed that 80% of female firefighters experience issues with ill-fitting PPC, and nearly 20% leave off a part of the PPC including turnout coats/jackets and pants, due to mobility restrictions. The webinar will focus on McQuerry and Kwon’s research into the root causes of the design issues for female firefighter gear.
‘Currently there are over one million firefighters in the U.S. and roughly 82,000 of them are women,’ said Amanda Kimball, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, a partner in the research project. ‘Despite the increased number of women joining the fire service, there are still many design challenges and related barriers that exist for producing both turnout suits and wildland gear essential for effective performance and safety of the female firefighter population.’
According to McQuerry and Kwon, female firefighters face a 33% higher risk of injury than their male counterparts due to ill-fitting PPC, including thermal, liquid, and chemical exposure, and burns when fighting a fire.
‘Fit, mobility, and the comfort of turnout gear has an immediate impact on the protection of firefighters,’ continued Kimball. ‘Current thinking dictates we solve the problem by offering a simple downscaling or grading of male sizes for women, but we know that a woman’s body is not just a smaller version of a male. Using true sizing data based on a woman’s physique allows researchers, in collaboration with manufacturers, to address the needs and improve the fit and function of gear specific to female firefighters while still meeting design requirements.’
The webinar will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. EST and will include a review of the study’s findings. It will also introduce the first female firefighter anthropometric database used to categorize and share physical properties of the human body with designers of PPC.
the live webinar. For more information about the Fire Protection Research Foundation, visit the website.