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Thermal protective uniforms and hoods: impact of design modifications and water content on burn prevention in New York City firefighters: laboratory and field results
  1. D J Prezant1,
  2. K S Malley2,
  3. R L Barker3,
  4. C Guerth3,
  5. K J Kelly2
  1. 1New York City Fire Department, Bureau of Health Services and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Pulmonary Division
  2. 2New York City Fire Department, Bureau of Health Services
  3. 3Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science, Center for Research on Textile Protection and Comfort, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr David Prezant, Montefiore Medical Center, Pulmonary Division, Centennial Blg Rm 423, Bronx, NY 10467, USA


Objectives—To determine (1) the effectiveness of hoods in reducing head burns, (2) the impact of clothes worn under the protective outer uniform (modern = long sleeve shirt and long pants; modified modern = short sleeve T-shirt and short pants) on burns, and (3) whether water content (dry, damp or saturated) affects the level of thermal protection.

Setting—Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).

Methods—Laboratory tests (fully dressed manikin) evaluated the different uniform and water conditions when exposed to an average 24 cal/cm2 heat flux, approximately 2250°F air temperature. FDNY field results compared (1) head burns during winters wearing the hood to winters without hood and (2) upper and lower extremity burns during summers wearing traditional, modern, and modified modern uniforms.

Results—Laboratory tests showed that thermal protection was: (1) dramatically improved by the hood with protection increasing as water content increased and (2) not significantly different between modern and modified modern uniforms, regardless of water content. FDNY field results confirmed these tests showing (1) significant decreases in neck burns (by 54%), ear burns (by 60%), and head burn totals (by 46%) wearing the hood and (2) no significant differences in upper or lower extremity burns wearing modern compared with modified modern uniforms.

Conclusions—Based on combined laboratory and field results, we strongly recommend the use of modern thermal protective hoods and the modified modern uniform.

  • firefighting uniforms
  • burn prevention
  • thermal injury evaluation
  • occupational injury

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