Exploration of Firefighter Turnout Gear Part 1: Identifying Male Firefighter User Needs

Jessica Barker, Lynn M Boorady, Young-A Lee, Shu-Hwa Lin, Eunjoo Cho, Susan P. Ashdown


Firefighters serve as first responders and encounter a wide variety of hazards while performing their job tasks. They also perform an array of movements when responding to emergencies. It is thus critical that their personal protective equipment allow firefighters to perform their duties with minimal limitations and maximum safety. This research explored the issues firefighters experience when wearing their gear to identify areas needing improvement. Researchers conducted focus groups of male firefighters throughout the country to identify areas of concern for firefighters regarding their gear. Data were analyzed using an interpretive thematic analysis method that revealed three main problem areas: gear function, wearer comfort, and protection provided. Specific issues related to these problem areas are discussed, and suggestions are made for ways to improve firefighter gear to enhance the experience of the end user. Findings from this study serve as a guide for future researchers and manufacturers creating new gear, as well as developing enhanced education and training of firefighters regarding their gear.

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