A Review of Ballistic, Slash, and Stab Protection for Integration in First Responder Personal Protective Clothing
Received Date: January 31, 2019; Published Date: February 08, 2019
The 2015 National Fire Service Research Agenda report placed a significant priority on the evaluation and development of ballistic protection for firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) first responders. While some fire departments have adopted hard armor vests worn underneath or overtop of their uniform or turnout suits, body armor should be integrated into first responder personal protective clothing (PPC) such that ballistic and stab protection is an inherent property of the clothing system. The purpose of this review article was to explore the ballistic protection needs of first responders and investigate the potential integration of such protection into structural firefighting and EMS protective clothing. Types of ballistic, slash, and stab protection are discussed along with standard National Institute of Justice (NIJ) protection levels. Advanced ballistic technologies and existing products are investigated for their feasible incorporation into first responder PPC. Thermal protection, physiological comfort, garment fit, and ergonomic mobility user needs are considered in conjunction with ballistic protection. A system engineering approach should be utilized to integrate soft armor ballistic protection into first responder protective apparel. Future research should assess the ability of integrated ballistic protection designs to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) performance requirements for firefighting and EMS.
Keywords: Ballistic; Protection; Firefighter; Design; Protective clothing; NFPA; Military