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Manikin Flame Engulfment

Manikin flame engulfment test

BTTG™ Fire Technology Services has been involved in evaluating heat and flame protective clothing using heat sensing manikins since 1989 with the world renowned RALPH (Research Aim Longer Protection against Heat) male-shaped manikin. Since 2006 a completely new version of RALPH, complying with the manikin test standard ISO 13506, has been joined by SOPHIE (System Objective Protection against Heat In an Emergency), a female-shaped manikin. Both manikins are available to interested parties for testing clothing under full (gas) flame envelopment conditions at a heat flux level of 84kW/m². For each test a burn injury prediction print-out is produced giving Pain, 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burn levels to enable end-users and manufactures to evaluate actual garment performance under the most extreme of conditions. Firefighters garments, flame retardant coveralls, aircrew and other military clothing can all be tested on RALPH and SOPHIE.

RALPH and SOPHIE have a total of 135 and 132 sensors respectively distributed over the head, torso, legs, arms and hands which monitor the temperature on the surface of the manikin during a test. (The feet of the manikin are not sensored). One of the main features of the BTTG™ system is that it allows for the testing of complete ensembles of fire protective clothing i.e. clothing, headwear and gloves. This is achieved by having all thermocouple extension cables exit through the left foot of the manikin. These cables are terminated at the foot by multi-pin plugs and sockets to allow the manikin to wear trousers etc. without the need for any cutting of the garment.

During a test the manikin is challenged by a flame engulfment apparatus consisting of 12 burners (in two tiers of six) surrounding the manikin in a hexagonal pattern with the manikin at the centre giving a mean heat flux level of 84kW/m². The lower set of six burners are pointed at the legs and lower body of the manikin whilst the upper set of six burners are pointed at the upper body and head. The flame exposure time can be chosen to reflect the intended end-use but 8 seconds for firefighters garments and 3-5 seconds for single layer coveralls is generally accepted as the standard exposure times.

From the temperatures recorded during the test predictive “percentage burn injury” at Pain, 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree levels are calculated. The various sensors reaching these thresholds and the percentage area of the body affected is plotted on a diagram of the manikin which is included in the report to the client.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact Chris Dean in our Fire Technology Services  department (cdean@bttg-fts.co.uk or +44 (0)161 876 4211).