Firefighter Turnout Gear Durability Study-Evaluation of Visibility Trim

Deena Cotterill, Elizabeth P. Easter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The high visibility trim requirements for NFPA 1971 (2007 ed.) turnout gear are intended to provide the user conspicuity enhancements in both daytime and nighttime environments. This study evaluated the reflectance, color and fluorescence properties of high visibility trim on firefighters used turnout gear. Forty-four used garments, grouped in age categories from 2 to 10 years (retired), were visually evaluated according to the Section 4 of the NFPA 1851-Advanced Inspection Checklist. Advanced inspection identified damaged trim on 21 of the 46 garments. The damaged areas, located primarily at the cuffs and lower front hem, were not as reflective but passed the subjective flashlight test. A data sampling plan for retroreflective values was constructed for the coats and pants and the coefficients of retroreflection were collected to provide a measure of the nighttime conspicuity. To characterize the fluorescent (daytime) properties of the trim on the used garments the values for fluorescence and color box coordinates were measured. The measured coefficient of retroreflection (RA, cd/lux/m2) for all garments (average of all values in the sampling plan) was greater than 3× the minimum NFPA 1851 requirement. Therefore, all used gear provided substantial nighttime conspicuity enhancement including the retired gear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-613
Number of pages13
JournalFire Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Ken Hanzalik and Tim Gardner from 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division for help in testing garments and support of this project. We would also like to thank Richard Young of DuPont, Tricia Hock of Fire Dex, Patricia Freeman of Globe Manufacturing and Karen Lehtonen of Lion Apparel for their support of this project.


  • Firefighter
  • NFPA 1851
  • NFPA 1971
  • Turnout gear
  • Visibility trim

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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