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Innovative Portable Shelters Help Protect Firefighters

CNR Students checks his line of fire in a control forest burnWhile firefighters in California were battling wildfires fueled by extreme heat last summer, NC State researchers in textiles and forestry joined forces to look for ways to better protect them under the worst circumstances.

A team at the Textile Protection and Comfort Center, led by director Roger Barker, is researching ways to improve the portable shelters firefighters are required to carry. The tent-like structures are firefighters’ last defense and are only deployed when wildfires have them surrounded. Made of fiberglass and silica fabrics with aluminized outer surfaces, they are designed to provide some protection from temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees as a fire passes over them.

A prescribed burn exercise organized in north Durham County by forest management students allowed the research team to practice and refine an experimental protocol they plan to follow across the country and out West over the next 12 months as they test new materials in larger fires.

This article was originally published by NC State News.