Development of Testing Environment for Thermal Protective Clothing at Critical Conditions

  • Sungwook Kang
  • Minjae Kwon
  • J. Yoon ChoiEmail author
  • Sengkwan Choi
Conference paper


This project examines the thermal protective performance of firefighters’ garment. Although this research topic has been rigorously studied to secure the safety of wearers, little information exists on the clothing’s behaviour at ‘recent’ environments created by compartment fires beyond the flashover state; the critical conditions become more severe due to increases in use of synthetic materials in furnishings and construction. As part of the project, this paper discusses particularly (i) the quantification of the current critical fire hazards; (ii) a sequential development of apparatuses capable of generating the heat flux defined, from bench-scale to human adult-scale; and (iii) the establishment of a measurement system incorporating a skin simulant. To represent the up-to-date severity of fires, the upper bound (126 kW/m²) of the conventional range of flash fires is employed rather than the standard (84 kW/m²), as the worst-case scenario for fire attack teams. Heaters are systematically advanced and calibrated with respect to the ability to emit, spatial uniformity of irradiance, and its temporal consistency. A measurement plan for testing is established in association with the actual physical damage to wearers (i.e. superficial second-degree burn injury). A skin simulant which exhibits thermo-physical characteristics similar to those of human tissues is also developed to make a sensor which intends to accurately predict burn injuries and thus assess the performance of garments. This work tends to create an advanced testing environment for thermal protective clothing, and therefore will contribute (i) to the full understanding of the garments’ behaviours under critical conditions, (ii) to the improvement of the potential shield-like barrier’s protective performance, and thereby (iii) to the security of the health and life of firefighters, in due course.


Thermal protective clothing Critical fire hazard Radiant heater Skin simulant 



Specific heat (J/(kgK))


Thermal conductivity (W/(mK))


Thermal inertia (J2/(m4K2s))

Greek Symbols


Density (kg/m3)


Thermal diffusivity (m2/s)



This project is funded by Korean National Fire Agency through R&D programme on Fire Safety and 119 Rescue Technology: Development of personal protective equipment for accidentally high-risk circumstances under extreme situations (MPSS-Fire Safety-2015-82).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sungwook Kang
    • 1
  • Minjae Kwon
    • 1
  • J. Yoon Choi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sengkwan Choi
    • 2
  1. 1.Korea Conformity LaboratoriesFire Safety CentreCheongjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.School of the Built EnvironmentUlster UniversityNewtownabbeyUK

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