My name is Kolton McConkey, I'm 24 years old from Penetanguishene, Ontario. Growing up I never really knew what I wanted to do later in life. Even near the end of high school, until I discovered the field of Industrial Design while looking for design-related programs. At that point, I had no art experience but worked with AutoCAD fairly often. Looking back I realized how interested I was in physical products, I played hockey growing up and was always super fascinated with the equipment side of sports.
I decided to take an extra year of high school to figure things out and work on sketching. During this time I developed a love for footwear which to this day is something I very much enjoy. (One of the things I like to sketch the most.) Throughout my college experience, I have been growing fond of the apparel, footwear and soft goods industries. I very much look forward to what the future has to offer now that my time at Humber is done.
Firefighters are an essential part of the emergency service umbrella and are important members of the community. They continuously perform a dangerous and extremely strenuous job. They are subjected to the extreme heat that can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps with the possibility of losing consciousness. Heat exhaustion is prevalent in this line of work due to the heavy protective equipment worn. The purpose of this thesis is to achieve a design solution to alleviate the effects of heat exhaustion.
Current protective equipment (such as turnout gear) protects firefighters from heat but is poor at dissipating it. Current solutions offer little aid in keeping the core body temperature at a controlled and comfortable level, especially for extended periods. This thesis project will provide an in-depth study of the industry of firefighting utilizing interviews, user observation, and surveys. Additionally, current training methods and skills will be analyzed to understand the entire firefighting process.
Enhancement of Human Lifestyle
Firep enhances a firefighters' lifestyle by providing help when they need it most. By providing the tools to alleviate the effects of heat exhaustion. Over time the effects of heat exhaustion can take a serious toll on ones body further increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
By cooling a large part of the body firefighters are able to have better control over their overall body temperature. This leads to a much safer working environment, given the extreme situations they face. The overall goal of Firep is to protect firefighters from the negative health effects related to heat stroke/heat exhaustion.
Firep provides firefighters with a simple full upper body solution to heat exhaustion. Utilizing a long sleeve shirt construction to cool a large part of the torso and back. Firep covers major touch points such as the head, chest, back, arms and hands. The two products ensure the firefighter can easily don and doff the gear.
Human Factors and Ergonomics
Due to the nature of firefighting gear Firep would be offered in a range of sizes to fit the individual correctly. It is designed to fit similar to an athletic top to provide a snug fit. Its full sleeve construction provides sweat wicking to the entire upper body to quickly expel heat just beneath the turnout gear.
The family of products covers the full body from waist up ensuring the 3 essential touch points. The products cover touch point such as the head, chest, hands and arms. One of the main priorities when designing Firep was to ensure easy donning and doffing such that firefighter could still quickly respond to emergency calls.
Firep aims to provide sustainable effort through not only materials and manufacturing but also business/personal sustainability. Focus starts with the shirt which is constructed using bamboo-based rayon fibres. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants thus making it widely renewable.
Bamboo is also a much cleaner source of fibre as compared to the likes of cotton or polymer-based synthetics. While talking about materials Firep also makes use of high durability polymers to increase the overall life span of the helmet and cooling system. This also aids due to the harsh environment in which these products will exist in. The final area of sustainability is within the business, every year a large number of firefighters are injured on the job due to the effects of heat exhaustion. By aiding and alleviating the problem at the source Firep can help firemen stay healthy and safe while performing on the front lines.