Fire proximity suit
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Fire proximity suits first appeared during the 1930s, and were originally made of asbestos fabric (hence also known as the asbestos suit). Today they are manufactured from vacuum-deposited aluminized materials that reflect the high radiant loads produced by the fire.
There are three basic types of these aluminized suits:
- Approach suit—used for work in the general area of high temperatures such as steel mills and smelting facilities. (Ambient heat protection up to ~200 °F (93 °C).)
- Proximity suit—used for aircraft rescue and fire fighting (AR-FF) and, in more heavily insulated versions, for kiln work requiring entry into the heated kiln. (Kiln suit ambient protection ~2,000 °F (1,093 °C) and proximity ambient protection~ 500 °F (260 °C))
- Entry suit—used for entry into extreme heat and situations requiring protection from total flame engulfment. Most commonly made of Zetex or Vermiculite and not aluminized. (Entry suit ambient protection ~2,000 °F (1,093 °C)) for short duration and prolonged radiant heat up to 1,500 °F (816 °C).
Complete proximity protection for AR-FF requires:
- Aluminized hood or helmet cover with neck shroud
- Aluminized jacket and pants complete with vapor barrier insulated liner
- Aluminized lined gloves
- Aluminized AR-FF boots
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) (aluminized covers for air bottles, or suits that cover the air pack are also available)
- "Fire Rescue", Flight, 20 November 1941 - contemporary article on asbestos suits
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