AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - Researchers at Iowa State University say the gloves firefighters use to protect their hands while fighting a fire could be safer. The ISU researchers are working to create better ones, making them more protective, dexterous and comfortable.
Marion Fire Department Lieutenant David Gilchrist says firefighter’s hands get burned the most. He says often times firefighters have to take off their uncomfortable gloves to do a task and may touch something that's hot.
The Marion Fire Department gets new gloves about every three years. Crews have experimented with thick and thin gloves.
While thicker gloves give them more protection, the department says it's harder for crews to grip things and do simple tasks like using their radios. Thinner gloves are easier to grip, but they don't handle the heat as well. Currently, they are using thicker gloves.
Gilchrist says they are looking for the perfect balance.
"If we are going to put a harness on somebody to drag them out of a building, if we are going to a do a small task that requires high dexterity, these gloves aren't overly great for that, but we do train with them so we are used to it,” said Gilchrist “If we could get gloves that get more dexterity that would be a huge benefit to us."
Right now researchers at Iowa State are testing fire-resistant fabrics to see how they hold up against the flames. This is a three-year study they hope to finish by September of 2022. A $1.5 million dollar grant from FEMA and Department of Homeland Security is paying for it.