Volunteer Firefighter International

Study: Firefighter PPE Needs to be Tailored for Gender

By Bill Wellock, Florida State University News:

When female firefighters put on the protective suits they need for their work, they’re often using gear that has been designed for a male body.

Because of that mismatch, the suits don’t fit as well as they should, and their mobility is impaired. Firefighters working in gear that restricts their movement must work harder to move around in a stressful and physically demanding environment, which puts them at greater risk of overexertion and heart attacks, the leading cause of on-duty deaths.

New research from Florida State University investigates differences in mobility for male and female firefighters while wearing the gear that is essential for protection from the intense heat of fires. The study is available in the January print edition of the journal Applied Ergonomics .

“There’s not enough research to say 100 percent ‘This is what a female turnout suit needs to be,’ but we do know women need a suit designed for them,” said author Meredith McQuerry, an assistant professor in the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship. “The National Fire Protection Association sees the need. There are female and male sizes, but those are oversimplifications that don’t take different anthropometric proportions into account, like the waist-to-hip ratio, the bust or shoulder breadth.”

Previous studies have investigated the effects of bulky firefighting gear on the movement of male firefighters, but most research has not considered the measurements and range of motion of female firefighters.

Read the full story here.

Image: Florida State University News

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