Evaluation of two cooling systems under a firefighter coverall

Firemen often suffer from heat strain. This study investigated two chest cooling systems for use under a firefighting suit. In nine male subjects, a vest with water soaked cooling pads and a vest with water perfused tubes were compared to a control condition. Subjects performed 30 min walking and 10 min recovery in hot conditions, while physiological and perceptual parameters were measured. No differences were observed in heart rate and rectal temperature, but scapular skin temperature and fluid loss were lower using the perfused vest. Thermal sensation was cooler for the perfused vest than for the other conditions, while the cool pad vest felt initially cooler than control. However, comfort and RPE scores were similar. We conclude that the cooling effect of both tested systems, mainly providing a (temporally) cooler thermal sensation, was limited and did not meet the expectations.

Source: Teunissen LP, Wang LC, Chou SN, Huang CH, Jou GT, Daanen HA. Appl. Ergon. 2014.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2014.04.008

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