North Carolina State University (NC State) researchers found that four new designs for shelters to protect firefighters trapped in wildfires could increase the survival time inside the shelter compared with the current industry standard. In lab simulations of wildfire burn-overs—where a wildfire sweeps over a group of trapped firefighters or equipment—temperatures inside the shelters remained within survival limits for longer, and the shelters took longer to break open.
Researchers hope their findings from the lab, as well as from field tests conducted across North America, could spur the development of better shelters. In addition, they hope the findings will inform new standards for shelter design and testing.
Roger Barker, professor of textile technology at NC State and the director of the Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC), says, “While there’s no such thing as ‘fire-proof,’ what we’re trying to do is to buy more time. We were able to demonstrate our shelters could increase the time to failure—time that could be critical for survival.” Photo: Joseph Roise/NC State University