NIOSH Develops First Database of Firefighter Anthropometric Information
NIOSH researchers have developed the first database of firefighter anthropometric information, which is intended to help improve the ergonomic and safety specifications of fire apparatus and equipment. The national survey included 951 male and female firefighters from across the U.S. Researchers used both three-dimensional scanning technologies and traditional digitization methods to collect 71 body dimension measurements relevant to the design of seat belts, fire truck cabs, gloves, boots, seats, and protective clothing. NIOSH also developed and tested a series of design procedures that equipment designers, standards writers, and industry manufacturers can use to improve firefighter equipment design and efficacy. According to agency findings, changes to fire apparatus and PPE are needed to accommodate the diversity of today’s firefighters, many of whom have different body sizes than the general population. The NIOSH survey also found that PPE fit can compromise performance, with approximately one in four male firefighters and one in two female firefighters reporting problems with the fit or bulkiness of structural firefighting gloves. Fire departments are already making changes based on the information contained in NIOSH’s new database. For example, a large metropolitan fire department recently retrofitted older fire apparatus with a new seatbelt system, which aligns with a new NFPA specification for seatbelt length, configuration, and retraction. “We’re delighted that the data is being used to support design changes and look forward to possible future changes to reduce the risk of injury and death among firefighters,” said NIOSH’s Hongwei Hsiao.
For more information, see NIOSH’s news update.