NFPA: Fire Protection Research Foundation Receives Grants to Study Fire Investigator PPE and Transition to Fluorine Free Foam Technology

National Fire Protection Association

The Fire Protection Research Foundation, research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), has received two Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFGs) to study the effectiveness of fire investigator personal protective equipment (PPE) and to develop a strategic roadmap for the fire service while transitioning from fluorinated foam usage to fluorine free foam technology.

“We are grateful for the AFG support and excited to be working on research that will help to fill two significant health and safety gaps in the fire service,” said Amanda Kimball, Fire Protection Research Foundation executive director. “By evaluating the performance of currently-fielded investigator PPE and decontamination methods, as well as the modern and anticipated issues related to firefighting foam operations, we will not only inform the fire service but the standards development process.”

The aim of the fire investigator PPE project is to impact the health and safety of fire investigators by determining the effectiveness of PPE, post-fire skin-cleansing wipes, and on-scene decontamination methods for mitigating exposures to toxic fireground contaminants while conducting investigations. A standard for fire investigator PPE or specifications to help select the appropriate protective ensembles is currently lacking. The Foundation is partnering with North Carolina State University (NCSU) for this three-year research effort, which is now getting underway. The study will provide a thorough evaluation of performance across a wide range of currently fielded PPE; produce methods for evaluating particulate protection and post-fire wipe efficacy; and develop recommendations for the relevant standards committees.

The second project will enhance firefighter health and safety by developing best practice recommendations for firefighting foam operations and handling while transitioning to fluorine free foam technology. Fire departments are seeking replacements for Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) and other agents containing fluorsurfactants but lack acceptable drop-in replacements for AFFFs that are effective. This is a complex problem that requires insights on fire extinguishing performance, health risks, environmental contamination, and other concerns. The one-year project will entail a comprehensive review of published works, ongoing research studies and industry practices; include a stakeholder workshop to evaluate the collected baseline information and identify knowledge gaps; and will result in a report that summarizes the overall research findings.

When available, proceedings and findings will be posted on www.nfpa.org/foundation. Information on previous research efforts, as well as 50-plus other projects currently underway, can also be found on the Research Foundation landing page.

About the Fire Protection Research Foundation

The Fire Protection Research Foundation plans, manages, and communicates research on a broad range of fire safety issues in support of the NFPA mission. The Research Foundation is an affiliate of NFPA.

About the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®)

Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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