To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Impact of firefighter gear on lower body range of motion

Huiju Park (Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Helen Trejo (Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Madeline Miles (Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Allison Bauer (The Jones Group, New York, New York, United States.)
Seonyoung Kim (Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Jeffrey Stull (International Personnel Protection Inc. Austin, Austin, Texas, United States.)

International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology

ISSN: 0955-6222

Article publication date: 20 April 2015

665

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the incremental impact of firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE) on lower body range of motion (ROM) while walking to suggest areas of design improvement for enhanced mobility and safety.

Design/methodology/approach

Eight male and four female firefighters participated in the study. Lower body ROM was assessed while they walked in four different configurations of PPE, including turnout ensemble, a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and boots. The impact of each added PPE item, and gender differences were statistically analyzed.

Findings

Wearing firefighter turnout ensemble and SCBA reduced ROM in the lower body in the sagittal and transverse planes. A significant reduction in ROM for anterior-posterior movement at the ankle and the ball of the foot was found while wearing rubber boots with turnout ensemble and SCBA. This puts firefighters at higher risk of experiencing foot injuries and physical strains. A significant increase in medial-lateral movement of the foot while wearing rubber boots may increase risk of ankle sprains. A greater reduction in ROM at the ankle and the ball of the foot for female firefighters may imply greater risk for women compared to men, while wearing boots.

Practical implications

Reducing the inflexibility and bulkiness of boots is critical to improve firefighter’s lower body mobility and safety.

Originality/value

This study implemented 3-D motion capture technology to analyze how wearing firefighting gear impacted lower body motion. It provides quantitative evidence to recommend ergonomic boot re-design.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported in part by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station federal formula funds, Project No. NYC-329832 received from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA,) United States Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Citation

Park, H., Trejo, H., Miles, M., Bauer, A., Kim, S. and Stull, J. (2015), "Impact of firefighter gear on lower body range of motion", International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 315-334. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCST-01-2014-0011

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles