Fire Characteristics:

Fires are inherently hazardous and exhibit rapid, unpredictable temperature increases, reaching up to 2000 Degrees F in mere seconds. This overview delves into the diverse heat conditions within a fire and their impact on protective clothing.

Types of Heat Transfer:

Three primary types of heat transfer in a fire pose burn risks: conduction, convection, and thermal radiation.


Wet or compressed protective clothing heightens the risk of conductive heat burns. Water, a poor insulator, can facilitate conductive bonds, displacing insulating air and increasing heat transfer. Serious burns can result from compressed clothing surfaces, as seen in injuries from contact with hot surfaces or objects. Example: blistering on knees during crawls on hot surfaces or compression injuries from extended forearms toward heat sources.


Convective heat, transmitted through the air, can elevate protective clothing temperatures, especially if clothing is wet. Immediate fire presence is not required for convective heat, making it a latent threat. Elevated temperatures may lead to conductive heat burns.

Thermal Radiation:

Heat transfer in the form of light energy directly from flames or reflected from hot objects. Factors affecting radiant heat transfer include temperature difference, distance, and surface reflectiveness. Radiant heat transforms into stored energy, intensifying and transferring inward, causing injuries even at temperatures as low as 180 degrees F.

Firefighters encounter all three heat transfer types during firefighting operations. It’s crucial to be aware of these dynamics to ensure the effectiveness of protective gear and minimize the risk of burn injuries.

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