N.C. State University has been awarded a contract from the Dept. of Homeland Security to develop the next generation of structural fire-fighting personal protective equipment, which will include chemical and biological agent protection.

Under the agreement, N.C. State will receive more than $830,000 for an 18-month term.

The university’s proposal was selected from more than 3,300 submitted in response to a May 2003 announcement issued jointly by the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division and the Technical Support Working Group.

The N.C. State team will design equipment that will provide protection consistent with the standards of the National Fire Protection Association for both structural fire-fighting protection and chemical/biological protection. These next-generation garments will provide protection against chemical and biological agents while taking into account flexibility, weight, durability, heat stress reduction, service life and costs associated with currently available protective gear.

The initial prototypes will be showcased at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Fire-Rescue Meeting in New Orleans in August 2004. In 2005, these prototypes will be tested and evaluated in major metropolitan fire departments for functional performance and user acceptance.

Roger Barker, director of the Center for Research on Textile Protection and Comfort in the College of Textiles, will lead the N.C. State team of materials and clothing design experts from academia and industry. Representatives of DuPont, Globe Manufacturing Company, Portable Environments, and the Fairfax, VA, and La Mesa, CA fire departments, will work with the university throughout the project to design, test and field the improved equipment.

“We’ll be working at a rapid pace to develop prototypes of the new gear,” said Barker. “For the next 18 months, this is our top priority.”

N.C. State: www.ncstate.edu