Title

Optimization of Firefighter Uniform Fire Retardancy Through Treatment With a Sodium Borate Solution

Author(s)

Caitlin Aycock

School Name

Spring Valley High School

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Chemistry

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Abstract

One safety hazard firefighters experience is the weight loss in protective gear due to burning and exposure to flame. Boron-based fire retardants are used to prevent flames from spreading. The purpose of the study was to decrease mass lost and burned surface area when the station uniform came in contact with fire. The uniforms can be reinforced using these methods to increase firefighter's safety. It was hypothesized that if the uniform test material, soaked in a nine percent concentrated sodium borate solution, were exposed to the flame, then it would retain more of its mass than it would without the treatment. After further investigation, it was also hypothesized that if the station uniform were exposed to a flame for different intervals of time, then the samples soaked in the sodium borate solution would have a smaller percent of burned surface area than the control samples. Samples of a station uniform were soaked in sodium borate, dried, and exposed to a flame. The masses of the material, as well as burned surface area, were collected throughout experimentation to be analyzed and compared to the uniform without sodium borate. The samples were exposed to the fire for five, fifteen, and thirty minutes to emulate a firefighter in a burning structure. The control group had a lower average mass loss for each time than the chemical group, t(56)=3.46 p<.001. However, the chemical group had a significantly lower percent of burned surface area than the control group, leading to the conclusion that the borax solution strengthened the firefighter uniform as intended.

Location

Furman Hall 108

Start Date

3-28-2020 9:00 AM

Presentation Format

Oral and Written

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Mar 28th, 9:00 AM

Optimization of Firefighter Uniform Fire Retardancy Through Treatment With a Sodium Borate Solution

Furman Hall 108

One safety hazard firefighters experience is the weight loss in protective gear due to burning and exposure to flame. Boron-based fire retardants are used to prevent flames from spreading. The purpose of the study was to decrease mass lost and burned surface area when the station uniform came in contact with fire. The uniforms can be reinforced using these methods to increase firefighter's safety. It was hypothesized that if the uniform test material, soaked in a nine percent concentrated sodium borate solution, were exposed to the flame, then it would retain more of its mass than it would without the treatment. After further investigation, it was also hypothesized that if the station uniform were exposed to a flame for different intervals of time, then the samples soaked in the sodium borate solution would have a smaller percent of burned surface area than the control samples. Samples of a station uniform were soaked in sodium borate, dried, and exposed to a flame. The masses of the material, as well as burned surface area, were collected throughout experimentation to be analyzed and compared to the uniform without sodium borate. The samples were exposed to the fire for five, fifteen, and thirty minutes to emulate a firefighter in a burning structure. The control group had a lower average mass loss for each time than the chemical group, t(56)=3.46 p<.001. However, the chemical group had a significantly lower percent of burned surface area than the control group, leading to the conclusion that the borax solution strengthened the firefighter uniform as intended.