Fire Prevention & Protection

Advances in Chemical Protective Ensemble Technology

Issue 5 and Volume 161.

BY JEFFREY O. STULL AND PETER A. KIRK Standards development for the chemical protective suit industry began as the result of a 1983 accident in Benicia, California. A local hazmat team responded to a rail tank car leaking anhydrous dimethylamine for spill evaluation and control. During the response, one of the four hazmat team members noticed that the visor lens of his total encapsulated suit was beginning to crack. The team immediately exited the vapor cloud in the spill area, but not before the suit visor broke open and allowed the hazardous chemical to enter the suit and expose the team member to chemical. Fortunately, an SCBA protected the member’s respiratory system, but the individual still suffered severe dermatitis because of skin exposure. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) evaluated the accident and found that the visor material was incompatible with dimethylamine even though the suit manufacturer’s literature recommended the…

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