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Grant to Study Radiant Exposure to Firefighter Facepieces Awarded to IFSI

A two year, $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). To characterize the impact of recent changes in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) mask material after they are repeatedly exposed to common fireground thermal conditions has been awarded to the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI).

“Along with collaborators in the Mechanical Science and Engineering Department at Illinois, the study will also include the development of a method to characterize the risk of inhaling chemicals that off-gas from SCBA when exposed to fireground conditions,” IFSI said in an announcement.

The IFSI’s project, “Mechanical properties and off-gassing characteristics of new and legacy SCBA facepieces: Effect of repeated moderate-intensity radiant exposure,” will involve “a comprehensive study … on the repeated, moderate-intensity radiant fireground exposures of NFPA 1981 (2013) compliant SCBA facepieces on mechanical strength, thermal performance and facepiece off-gassing.”

IFSI researchers will then compare data from the current NFPA compliant SCBA facepieces to those from previous (2007) generations to determine improvements and changes for firefighter protection.

“The intent is to increase our knowledge of how SCBA facepieces may perform after extended use and exposure to thermal conditions that will ultimately help keep firefighters safer on the fireground,” Dr. Gavin Horn, director of IFSI’s research program said.

IFSI said, “The extensive research and data of this two year project will be packaged to help inform the NFPA 1981 standard committee. It will further be broadly disseminated to the fire service in order to increase understanding of the capabilities and limitations of common SCBA materials.”

The Illinois Fire Service Institute is the statutory State Fire Academy for Illinois. In addition to training provided at its Champaign campus, the Institute offers one-day hands-onclasses for fire departments at regional training centers and local fire stations across the state. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information and research.

For more information about the Institute’s research, please call 217-265-6563 or visit www.fsi.illinois.edu.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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