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Estimates of Thermal Properties for Fire Fighters' Protective Clothing Materials



James R. Lawson, William D. Walton


A series of measurements has been carried out to quantify the thermal properties of materials used to fabricate fire fighters' thermal protective clothing. The thermal property measurements chosen have direct application for use in heat transfer computations that may be used to predict the thermal performance of fire fighters' protective clothing. The thermal properties are: thermal conductivity, specific heat, and the thermo-optical properties of absorptivity, reflectivity, and transmissivity. In addition, the physical property of density was also measured. Since thermal properties vary with ambient temperature conditions, thermal conductivity measurements were made over a range of temperatures from 20 degrees C to 100 degrees C. Specific heat was measured over a range of 0 degrees C to 100 degrees C. The maximum temperature of 100 degrees C was selected because it is below the material's temperature where thermal degradation occurs, and the temperature range used covers the temperatures where burn injuries occur in human skin. the thermo-optical properties data were generated only at room temperature, approximately 23 degrees C, since the test apparatus was not designed to operate at higher temperatures.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


absorptivity, fire fighters, fires, heat tranfer, protective clothing, reflectivity, specific heat, thermal conductivity, transmissivity


Lawson, J. and Walton, W. (2005), Estimates of Thermal Properties for Fire Fighters' Protective Clothing Materials, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created June 1, 2005, Updated February 17, 2017