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Pilot Study of Firefighter Three-Dimensional Anthropometry to Improve Seatbelt Safety.

pdf icon Pilot Study of Firefighter Three-Dimensional Anthropometry to Improve Seatbelt Safety. (7117 K)
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; Total Contact, Inc.

NIST GCR 08-919; 143 p. November 2008.


seatbelts; fire fighters; anthropometry; fire fighting equipment; statistics; sampling; design applications; NFPA 2001; NFPA 1901; death; accidents; specifications; seats; safety; technolgy utilization; surveys; human beings; protective equipment


The second leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for US firefighters is attributed to vehicular accidents, and a number of those firefighters who died were not wearing their seatbelt. It has been proven that many firefighters are not physically able to reach, manage, or maneuver their seatbelt such that they are safely restrained within the fire engine. Seat belts have been proven to save lives and yet this level of protection is not offered to all firefighters. Current seat specifications are inadequate due to outdated anthropometry, inappropriate use of percentiles, and lack of attention to the fact that the firefighter is outfitted in equipment adding considerable bulk and weight. Furthermore, US firefighters are one of the few populations never characterized using anthropometry. Fortunately, innovative methods used to capture and appropriately measure a population to improve their specific protective gear have been refined to create optimum fit. Characterizing the firefighter's volume, given the added bulk, required 3D anthropometry, selective image analysis, and advanced statistical solutions, all of which have been provided through this study. The multi-dimensional space that describes the shape and size of the seated, encumbered firefighter was captured using 3D whole body surface scanning. Additional postures with and without gear were captured as well to better understand and quantify the "bulk factor" added by the turnout gear. Traditional anthropometry was measured such that this data base can be compared and enhanced by other anthropometric database information. This facilitates the ability to characterize firefighters, for instance, with respect to other occupations. The sampling strategy was designed to carefully select each subject in order to most likely capture the variability that is the firefighting population. The success of this approach was highlighted in a comparison with the large national survey of thousands of civilians. Summary statistics were generated for all measurements to provide an overview of the population. Comparison of these statistics revealed potential problems with the FAMA self-reported anthropometric study. Anatomical landmarks on the standing and seated unencumbered scans were located and recorded for future modeling and measurement use. The dimensions that relate to seat and restraint design were identified and extracted from the seated, encumbered scans in the form of bounding boxes. A principal component analysis (PCA) was performed on these data and multivariate models generated to most succinctly describe and present cases (models) to use with ergonomic designs of fire apparatus. A physical representation of these models has been presented as an innovative design tool for existing and prototyped fire apparatus.