The DuPont? THERMO-MAN? instrumented mannequin system.
Everyone just watched as the man quickly became engulfed in flames. After the fire was put out a few minutes later, the crowd looked in amazement when it was revealed that the he appeared alright. Everything under the mannequin's fire protective clothing had been protected. The mannequin named THERMO-MAN? had survived yet another demonstration.
"THERMO-MAN? is a life-size polyester hypoxy resin mannequin with 122 thermal sensors designed to measure body surface temperature and predict body burn injury," Randall D. Templeton with DuPont said. "It's calibrated to receive an energy exposure of 2 calories per square centimeter per second."
The DuPont? THERMO-MAN? instrumented mannequin system is one of the most advanced life-size thermal burn injury evaluation devices in the world today. The 6-foot, 1-inch tall, size 44 regular mannequin, made from a high-temperature composite material, measures the fire protective performance of various garments and clothing systems under realistic flash-fire conditions. Garment construction, fabric weight, material type, style, fit, and the impact of outerwear and undergarments are accounted under controllable, reproducible scientific conditions. The standard requires you to collect the data for 60 seconds because heat continues to move through the garment and add heat exposure even after direct flame is extinguished.
DuPont presented the THERMO-MAN? demonstration at the 2007 Industrial Fire World Conference to show how different types of fire protective clothing withstand the test of fire. Tests were run on a treated cotton product, Nomex?, flammable rainwear over Nomex? Limitedwear, NASCO's MP3 over Nomex? Limitedwear , Tychem? Thermo-Pro, and a PBI Kevlar? blend.
"There are three laboratories that have these types of mannequins," Templeton said. "One is DuPont's facility in Richmond, VA. Another one's at North Carolina State University and the third one is at the University of Alberta. The mannequin at DuPont and the mannequin at NC State can be used for certification of thermal protective garments to meet NFPA standards."
THERMO-MAN? uses the American Society for Testing of Materials 1930 standard test method for certifying these garments, Templeton said.
According to DuPont, "The THERMO-MAN? demonstration unit we have here today does not perform the full range of testing that would normally be conducted at the THERMO-MAN? laboratory. Outside conditions such as cold, heat, wind and rain cannot be controlled as they are in the lab. Because of these uncontrolled conditions, THERMO-MAN? demonstration unit results are used for demonstration purposes only."
Abundio P. Rodriguez from Bridge City, TX, attended the 22nd annual IFW conference and asked about laundering instructions for all FR clothing. He was told that the Nomex laundry guide can be found on the Nomex Web site at www.personalprotection.dupont.com.
"With treated cotton products, laundering can compromise the FR protection," Templeton said. "Bleach is not recommended generally for flame resistant clothing. If you expose the treated cotton products to chlorine or oxidizing agents, it can compromise the FR properties of the clothing, and you won't be able to tell by looking at it that FR propertieshave been compromised."
Developed by DuPont and the U.S. military in the 1970s, THERMO-MAN? tests have been conducted for a broad range of suppliers and end users, including the petroleum, petrochemical and chemical industries; electric and gas utilities; fire services and garment manufacturers.
"The standard was made in reference to flash fire, and the history of this test and the test methods had to do with the time required for a military pilot to eject during an airplane fire," Templeton said. "And the actual fire that the test uses is a jet fire because you have pressurized fuel - propane fuel - coming out of eight nozzles. A flash fire is one that occurs when you have a flammable vapor mixture cloud - a vapor cloud - that ignites suddenly. This is only one of many different kinds of fires that can burn in industrial settings."
With the different types of fires that industrial firefighters face, DuPont tests the garments that these individuals will wear for various situations. THERMO-MAN? is exposed to varied amounts of heat to determine the extremes that the garments can take.
"To get an understanding of how much heat energy we are talking about, if you were to expose the tip of your finger to a cigarette lighter, that would roughly be one calorie per square centimeter," Templeton said. "So we're using energy of 2 calories per square centimeter per second heat flux over the entire surface of the mannequin."
Proven to withstand varying degrees of temperatures and conditions, protective gear made with DuPont? Nomex? fibers helps both industrial and municipal firefighters do their jobs to the best of their ability.
"The demonstration itself is pretty frightening. It's a good way to compare the garments that work well against the garments that work badly," Templeton said.
Good thing that THERMO-MAN? is here to prove what works and what does not.