Respiratory protection, in the form of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), is a vital component of a firefighter’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The SCBA facepiece lens is often considered the weakest component of a fire fighter’s ensemble in high heat conditions, but the level of thermal performance of the facepiece lens is not well understood.
Thermally degraded and melted SCBA facepiece lenses have been identified as a contributing factor in certain firefighter fatalities. The Fire Exposures of Firefighter Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Facepiece Lenses study demonstrated a range of realistic thermal exposures and environmental conditions which can result in thermal degradation and even catastrophic failure of facepieces.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products. Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.