Home > Articles > Wildland Firefighter PPE Provides Advantages for Fighting Outdoor Heat

Wildland Firefighter PPE Provides Advantages for Fighting Outdoor Heat

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recognizes the struggle for wildland firefighters as they try to achieve a balance of personal protective clothing and heat safety.

The heat of the summer months add danger for wildland firefighters tasked with extinguishing blazes. Although their protective gear may offer protection from the thermal exposure risks of firefighting, the layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) can increase a firefighter’s body temperature to hazardous levels.

Extreme heat becomes lethal when the human body faces conditions of high temperatures and humidity and subsequently struggles to sustain the normal temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit. The general term used for heat disorders is hyperthermia. Onset usually appears in three common forms: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. For firefighters, the strenuous work of combatting fires in locations ranging from dense cities, where asphalt retains heat thereby creating the urban heat island effect, to rural wildfires, which require long hours to control and contain blazes, heightens the need to take precautions.

Overexertion, stress, and medical conditions accounted for nearly 60 percent of firefighter deaths in 2015. Fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest ranked at 51 percent. A 2008 study by the Firefighter Life Safety Research Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that fatalities from heart attacks, slips, trips, and falls appear to be linked to heat stress, a situation that might be alleviated by reconfiguring and enhancing firefighter PPE.

Read full article here: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/news/2016/08/15/responder-new...