Aging of high-performance fibers used in firefighters' protective clothing: State of the knowledge and path forward

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  • High-performance fibers developed since the 1960s have a wide range of appli-cations including firefighters' protective clothing. Firefighters' protective cloth-ing made of inherently flame-resistant high-performance fibers offers excellentprotection in the new condition. However, these fibers experience aging as anypolymer material. The situation is amplified due to the severe conditions asso-ciated with the firefighters' activities. And the consequences of a loss in theperformance of the protective clothing can be dramatic for the firefighter'ssafety. This article provides a comprehensively review of the aging behavior ofhigh-performance fibers used in firefighters' protective clothing. Residual per-formance data have been identified both for used firefighter garments as wellas fabric specimens subjected to accelerated aging. Research shows that differ-ent aging conditions affect the different fibers to a different degree. The specificconditions in which the aging is applied also affects the outcome in terms ofloss in performance. Techniques successfully used to quantify the effect ofaging on the performance of fire-resistant fabrics are also briefly mentioned.Finally, the knowledge gained from this analysis of the literature as well asresearch gaps and further areas of investigation are discussed in this neglectedyet critical topic of firefighters' protective clothing aging.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International