I have often wondered about this. It must get bloody hot fighting fires in 40+ temps p://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20092209-19793.html Helping hot firies stay cool A team of inventors at James Cook University in Cairns has developed a vest that can help fire fighters and emergency workers keep their cool. The CoolMe Vest significantly reduces heat stress and recovery times for workers in extreme heat conditions. The vest was developed by three JCU staff members with the support of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service. “A fire fighter wearing a protective suit in a hot and humid environment can experience temperatures up to 50ºC and lose up to two litres of fluid in just 30 minutes,” said Dr Glen Deakin, a lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science and co-developer of the vest. “It can take up to two hours for that worker to recover and be ready for redeployment. We’ve been able to reduce that recovery period to 30 minutes, as well as significantly reducing fluid loss, core temperature and thermal discomfort.” Station Officer Ian Fulton, who took part in trials of the vest, said extreme conditions were exacerbated by the protective gear fire fighters wear. “Body heat can’t dissipate when you’re working in a protective suit, so that increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress. ” The CoolMe vest can be worn under a protective suit to allow emergency workers to keep cool on the job, or it can be applied afterwards, to speed up recovery. Dr Deakin developed the vest with two JCU colleagues, Robert Ennis-Thomas (a technical officer in the discipline of chemistry) and William Armstrong (a technical officer in sport and exercise science). Together they have formed GRW Industries. The company is working with JCU’s research commercialisation partner, UniQuest, to explore the commercial potential of the product, which has a patent pending. “Although the vest has grown out of our work with tropical fire fighters, we think it will be well received by a range of emergency services, the military and in industrial settings,” Dr Deakin said. “Keeping workers comfortable, and reducing their recovery time, allows for more efficient deployment of personnel.” Each vest is a disposable, single-use item made of recyclable materials. “It’s simple and affordable technology, similar to the chemical cold packs many people carry in their first-aid kits,” Dr Deakin said. “It can keep workers cool for short periods of high exertion, without requiring access to refrigeration or electricity. “It’s very easy to use in the field and will benefit fire fighters’ recovery between call-outs. Being disposable eliminates any hygiene or contamination problems.” GRW Industries is now working with consultants in industrial design from the University of Technology Sydney to prepare the vest for manufacture. The CoolMe Vest was JCU’s winner in the 2009 UniQuest Trailblazer competition, and will be presented at the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council conference on the Gold Coast next week (www.afac2009.org.au). Media enquiries: [email protected] .