Firefighting jacket wins award in international design contest

By Jessica Vaysberg:

University of Wisconsin–Stout students Alysia Fehrman, Jennifer Huynh, Phoua Vang, Zoe Long and Paige Murray recently designed and constructed an innovative firefighting turnout jacket for the Safety and Technical Products Student Design Challenge.

The contest drew in entries from 15 teams around the globe. The firefighting turnout jacket tied for third place with another UW–Stout team’s design.

“This is the type of jacket that firemen wear into the heat of the fire and in many other hazardous situations involving dangerous elements and chemicals,” said Fehrman. “It is innovative because we researched and utilized a combination of woven and knit fabrics that are protective against the impact of chemicals and elements but more lightweight.”

Currently, firefighters face challenges with the jackets they are wearing. An oxygen pack adds 50 to 70 pounds in addition to their usual jacket, leading to physical and mental exhaustion and hindered mobility.

The team had to do extensive research to come up with the design.

“We researched problems in current high visibility garments in various careers,” said Fehrman. “We found that the firefighting jacket had major problems that we wanted to redesign. Our design could possibly save money in that particular industry as well as help save lives.”

In the process of designing, the team created four prototypes before they were finished with the final garment. Along the way, they faced many challenges.

“The biggest challenge while designing the product was researching. There were many regulations, including the ergonomics of firefighters, their workplace and what their jobs are like on a daily basis. We wanted to ensure that we designed the best possible garment that would better their jobs while still being innovative and saving money,” said Fehrman. “The process of design also involved a lot of team work to meet the requirements, complete the garment and do proper research along the way. “

The garment allows for the wearer to cut off time while preparing to respond to an emergency; in fire and rescue, every second counts.

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