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Estimates of Thermal Conductivity for Materials Used in Fire Fighter's Protective Clothing.

pdf icon Estimates of Thermal Conductivity for Materials Used in Fire Fighter's Protective Clothing. (2103 K)
Lawson, J. R.; Pinder, T. A.

NISTIR 6512; 22 p. May 2000.


Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC

Available from:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
Telephone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
Fax: 703-605-6900.
Order number: PB2000-105986


protective clothing; fire fighters; thermal conductivity; heat transfer; test methods


Fire fighters' protective clothing provides a limited amount of thermal protection from environmental exposures produced by fires. This level of thermal protection varies with the design, materials, construction, and fit of the protective garments. Limits of thermal protection may be analyzed using the thermophysical properties of garment materials. However, little information is currently available for analyzing and predicting protective garment thermal performance. To address this need, a research effort was begun to measure the critical thermal properties of fire fighters' protective clothing materials. These thermal properties are: thermal conductivity, specific heat, and the thermal spectral properties of emissivity, transmissivity and reflectivity. This report presents thermal conductivity data for nine materials used in fabricating fire fighters' protective clothing. These materials included outer shell fabrics, moisture barrier, thermal liner batting, and reflective trim. As a comparison, measurements were also made on a cotton duck fabric. The thermal conductivity of individual protective clothing materials was measured using the test procedure specified in ASTM C-518 Standard Test Method for Steady-State Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of Heat Flow Meter Apparatus. Measurements producing estimates of thermal conductivity for single layers of materials were carried out at mean test temperatures of 20 deg C (68 deg F), 48 deg C (118 deg F), 55 deg C (131 deg F), and 72 deg C (162 deg F). No visible physical changes were observed with any of the materials tested at these temperatures. Thermal conductivity estimates for materials used in the construction of fire fighters' protective clothing ranged from 0.034 W/mK to 0.136 W/mK over the range of temperatures addressed in the study. Generally, thermal conductivity values increased for all materials as mean test temperatures were increased.