W2192: Improving Safety and Health of Wildland Firefighters Through Personal Protective Clothing

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

W2192: Improving Safety and Health of Wildland Firefighters Through Personal Protective Clothing

Duration: 10/01/2012 to 09/30/2017

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

Throughout most of the past decade wildland fires have dominated natural resource management issues. There appears to have been an increase in the prevalence of large scale wildland fires throughout the United States in recent years; a large scale fire event takes place every two-three years (USDA Forest Service, 2010). In fact, over the past 10 years there have been at least 60 fires over 100,000 acres in size in the Western United States (Peterson, 2011). This does not include the large scale fires during the 2011 season in Texas and other states outside of the region. The increase of wildland fire activity has forced natural resource managers to focus more of their attention and resources on fire management (USDA Forest Service, 2010). The operational budget resources directed to fire management have focused primarily on prevention and intervention. Not only have operational budget resources been directed to prevention and intervention management efforts but so has wildland fire research dollars. An area of research focus that has been lacking is the human resource factor. Not only is it important to factor in the human element in wildland urban interface (WUI) related issues but it is also important to direct attention to those in the heat of the battle, the wildland firefighters.
Firefighters can be assigned to a fire for up to 14 days and in many cases up to 12-hour shifts. During their assignments firefighters face a multitude of challenges and hazards in the field. To be fully prepared for dangerous situations firefighters must be properly trained and equipped. Personal gear of firefighters must be designed for protection, comfort, physiological and psychological, fit, during a prolonged use. With the limited amount of personal gear firefighter can pack when deployed (generally only two sets of protective gear that can be packed), soiled clothing is used repeatedly before changing or cleaning. Soiling through smoke, ash, perspiration, and, in some cases, fire retardant that has been dropped from helicopters or airplanes can eventually cause clothing to lose shape creating a poor fit. Under certain conditions soiled clothing may cause chafing and bruising of the skin.

The effectiveness of protective clothing is dependent on numerous factors, including textile properties, clothing design and appropriate fit. Further investigation of commercially available protective gear is needed to determine how current garments are meeting or not meeting the needs of firefighters. Issues relating to the interaction between the wearer, garment, equipment, and the environment have been raised. Traditionally, wildland firefighter clothing has been made from natural fibers, usually cotton, sometimes impregnated with flame retardants. Popular synthetic fibers such as polyester are deemed unacceptable because if they get too hot from exposure to fire, the material will melt and stick to the skin, aggravating burn injuries. Aramid fibers are considered superior to natural fibers because they absorb some of the heat upon melting when exposed to fire, lessening burns to the skin underneath.
Circumstances such as, when a firefighter is too hot due to poor thermal properties of a garment potentially leading to heat stress (Sharkey, 1999), or the garment design does not allow for ease of movement while performing the tasks of the job (Sharkey). The principal agency in Louisiana responsible for fighting wildland fires is the state Office of Forestry. Their firefighters natural fiber clothing is gradually being replaced by aramid fiber clothing as budgets permit. They require each firefighter to have at least five pairs of firefighting pants. However, the transition is not being met with complete enthusiasm. There have been cases of heat stroke while wearing Kevlar-impregnated Nomex pants because the material has no breathability (de Hoop, personal conversation 2012). Use of fabric suitable for hot weather is compounded by the fact that pants must be resistant to fraying from briars. Resistance to fraying is important because fraying reduces flammability resistance of the material  it produces more surface area to catch fire. The 6.5 oz. Nomex pants are often worn out in one day. The Kevlar-Nomex mix pants are needed to resist briars better, but they are more expensive, and, again, they have no breathability (de Hoop, personal conversation 2012).
Garment design factors must be balanced with cost effectiveness both in terms of monetary and human resources. Basic work in human factors related to protective clothing for wildland firefighters is required to develop the knowledge base. Once factors of issue for the firefighters have been identified through a needs assessment, materials and prototypes can be developed. Testing, design and redesign of protective clothing can then be undertaken to find the best possible solutions.

Recently the question of comfort in the personal protective clothing for wildland firefighters was brought to the attention of the researchers (personal communication). Issues raised by female wildland firefighters in particular call into question not only the comfort factor of the personal protective clothing but also the impact that lack of comfort might have on the full protective nature of firefighter gear. Female firefighters reported ill-fitting clothing, which created bruising and severe chaffing leading to semi-permanent skin conditions. Comfort related issues are also believed to distract firefighters causing them to lose focus while on the fire line. Informal conversations with male wildland firefighters revealed that they are faced with comfort issues similar to those raised by the females. If this proposed research is not conducted it will be a disservice to wildland firefighters because it is evident that even from brief informal discussions the protective clothing currently utilized is not fulfilling their needs. As a result the wildland firefighters are potentially being subject to health and safety issues.

Multi state research projects enable researchers, designers, and stakeholders to collaborate in the development of new technologies and their further refinement. The ultimate goal of the proposed project is to create and test prototypes of protective clothing and gear for wildland firefighters. To successfully develop and test prototype gear, an in-depth needs assessment with input from active wildland firefighters will be conducted. The needs assessment will be used to identify specific concerns and issues with the current gear. The approach that we have designed for this project is broadly divided into four major stages: (a) in-depth needs assessment, (b) materials research, (c) garment design development and testing, and (d) education and communication of results. The process of moving from concept to outcome requires collaborative work within and between the different stages of the process.

The successful completion of the proposed multi-state project will enable the creation of protective clothing for wildland firefighters that have enhanced function and comfort. In addition, the research to be undertaken will allow information to be provided to wildland firefighters which will improve their understandings of use and care of their protective clothing.

Related, Current and Previous Work

A report presented at the April 1999 conference on wildland firefighter safety stated that personal protective clothing strikes a balance between protection and worker comfort (Sharkey, 1999, p. 33). Structural firefighter protective clothing typically consists of three layers: an outer shell, a moisture barrier and a thermal liner (Rezazadeh & Torvi, 2011). However, protective clothing typically worn by wildland firefighters consists of a single layer Nomex shirt and pants (personal communication). The clothing should provide both comfort and protection. Proper fit is necessary in protective clothing in order for the movement of the wearer to not be restricted.

Comfort from a clothing perspective is that the wearer is psychologically and physiologically unaware of the clothing. It is understood that comfort is a complex phenomenon that results from the interaction of many physical and non-physical stimuli from a person wearing textile products in specific environments (Branson & Sweeney, 1991). Due to the complexity of describing comfort from a clothing perspective, numerous models have been proposed by researchers to identify relevant variables and the relationships that exist between them (Fourt & Hollies, 1970; Rohles, 1978; Pontrelli, 1977; Sontag, 1985-1986; Slater, 1986; Branson & Sweeney, 1991). Clothing which is worn in a work environment must have sufficient ease to allow the worker to move uninhibited &.being perceived as comfortable by the wearer. If a garment restricts the wearer or is too large, wearer mobility and the level of protection the clothing provides can be adversely affected (Huck, J., Maganga, O, & Kim, Y., 1997, p. 45).

Fit describes how apparel conforms to the human body (Petrova, 2005). Correct fit is related to correct sizing which is very important in protective clothing (Black & Cloud, 2008; Barker & Black, 2009; Barker, Black, & Cloud; 2010; Petrova, 2007; Torvi & Hadjisofhocleous, 1999). Many fit problems are caused by poor garment design. Product end use affects desired fit and should be a major consideration in the design process (Brown & Rice, 2001).

Previous researchers have designed prototype protective garments for wildland firefighters (Huck, J. & Kim, Y. 1997; Rucker, Anderson & Kangas, 2000). They designed prototypes that were two-layer systems rather than the traditional single layer typically worn by wildland firefighters. The two-layer systems were shown to be significantly better in protecting a thermally instrumented mannequin than one-layer systems. Fit characteristics were assessed and while small differences were observed they did not influence burn injury. However fit characteristics were not evaluated from a comfort perspective (Rucker et al., 2000). Huck and Kim developed a prototype coverall for grass firefighting. Although the prototype was preferred to the coverall firefighters were wearing, there was a difference in the fabrics used for the prototype versus actual coverall fabrics which could have led to the preference of the prototype. Huck and Kim (1997) did not test their prototype under actual working conditions.

Recently the question of comfort in the personal protective clothing for wildland firefighters was brought to the attention of the researchers (personal communication). Issues raised by female wildland firefighters in particular call into question not only the comfort factor of the personal protective clothing but also the impact that lack of comfort might have on the full protective nature of firefighter gear. Female firefighters reported ill-fitting clothing, which created bruising and severe chaffing leading to semi-permanent skin conditions. Comfort related issues are also believed to distract firefighters causing them to lose focus while on the fire line. Informal conversations with male wildland firefighters revealed that they are faced with comfort issues similar to those raised by the females.

An examination of the 1977 Design Requirements for federal firefighter uniforms indicate that sizing of uniforms is based on body measurements, which appear to have been defined for males only, leaving the female firefighters with the only option of using smaller male sizes. There does not seem to be any indication that consideration was given to the differences in body type and shape between male and female (National Fire Protection Association). Examination of several Wildland firefighter gear sites (The Fire Store, Ben Meadows, Fire Cache) revealed a relatively small number of protective apparel items designed specifically for women. When fitting charts were accessed on these sites, the measurements for females appeared to once again be simply scaled down male measurement charts (Attachment A). Only one of the sites (Fire Cache) appeared to use female models in their illustrations.

The issues raised by the few female wildland firefighters interviewed by the researchers warrant further investigation. Although some of the issues raised by the female firefighters also apply to their male counterparts they seem more prevalent amongst females. Since the early 1990s there has been a significant increase in the number of female wildland firefighters employed by national agencies. The proposed project will have implications for several areas within the textiles and apparel field, apparel design, textile science, apparel production, and product innovation for human well-being. There is also the potential for this project to draw interest from our colleagues in the areas of forestry and natural resources. In order to sustain our natural resource systems it is important that we address the safety and well-being of those individuals committed to the management of those resources.

Protective Clothing has a finite life. Degradation of protective clothing is dependent upon a number of factors including:
1) Materials used to manufacture the clothing.
2) Exposure to high temperature and heat fluxes; exposure to UV radiation
3) Wear and abrasion
4) Maintenance procedures

The two most common fibers typically used for protective clothing are poly (phenyleneisophthal-amide) (aramid fibers e.g. Nomex® and Kevlar®) and PBI (polybenzimidazole). Research has been conducted on the degradation of these fibers after thermal exposure. It has been shown that para-aramid fibers are thermally more stable than meta-aramid fibers. However blends of the two fibers showed less thermal shrinkage particularly if the para component exceeded 30%. (Barker, Geshury, & Behnke, 1996). Day, Cooney and Suprunchuk (1988) found that meta-aramids had significant tear strength loss after being exposed to temperatures up to 250o C in a convection oven.

Thermal aging of protective clothing is of particular concern. Influential factors in thermal aging include temperature, duration, and frequency of exposure. Researchers (Jain & Vijayan, 2002; Iyer, Sudhakar & Vijayan, 2006) found that tensile strength decreased and damage to surface fibers increased as temperature and length of exposure increased.

Exposure for prolonged periods to UV radiation results in photochemical reactions in most synthetic and natural fibers (Day et al., 1988). Wildland firefighters can be exposed to considerable amounts of sunlight during firefighting operations. Day et al. found that aramids underwent photodegradation after exposure to UV radiation resulting in significant fading of dyed samples such that they may not have passed colorfastness requirements according to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association, 2007). However, flame resistant properties were not found to change considerably (Day et al.) Davis, Chin, Lin and Petit (2010) found that changes due to UV radiation depended upon fabric type.

In fighting wildland fires firefighters are involved in various physical activities, where their protective clothing is going to be affected by abrasion and wear due to frictional and other forces. These forces can cause microcracks in fabrics eventually resulting in mechanical failure. (Slater, 1991) The potential for skin abrasion also exists with ill-fitting clothing resulting in chaffing and skin irritation. In addition, anytime a textile is placed over the skin the hydration level of the stratum corneum (SC) maybe affected. If hydration levels are increased then the skin becomes more susceptible to abrasive damage, may absorb chemicals more readily and may become more prone to microbial growth (Zimmerer, Lawson, & Calvert, 1986). Also when the hydration level of SC increases, comfort is compromised; as the hydration level increases comfort decreases (Cameron, Brown, Dallas, & Brandt, 1997).

Wildland firefighter protective clothing is subject to multiple contaminants. Wildland firefighters are faced with conditions in which their clothing becomes quite soiled through smoke, ash, and perspiration and in some cases fire retardant that has been dropped from a helicopter or an airplane. Maintenance of their clothing requires laundering, a process that affects clothing both chemically and mechanically (Slater, 1991). Due to the severity of the potential contamination wildland firefighter protective clothing may need to be laundered at higher temperature which can increase the levels of deterioration.
An integral part of any prototype development would be evaluation of fit characteristics. Body scanning has been found to be a successful tool in fit evaluations. Testing procedures for assessment of garment fit using body scanners have been created and evaluated (Petrova, 2009; Petrova & Ashdown, 2008; Ashdown, Slocum, & Lee, 2005; Ashdown et al, 2004). Circumferential, slice area, surface area and volume data of body scans are the basis of analysis techniques developed to evaluate fit (Lee et al, 2006, Loker et al, 2005, Nam et al., 2005; Petrova & Ashdown, 2004). These methodologies can be applied to analyzing functional clothing, including firefighter protective clothing.

CRIS Searches:
CRIS searches revealed one active regional project that considers personal protective technologies (NC-170). The objectives of NC-170 are listed below:
1) Develop and evaluate new textiles and materials systems and processes: A. material development; B. performance testing and evaluation; C. technology transfer
2) Design and evaluate garment systems and processes: A. garment design; B. performance testing, human factors testing and evaluation; C. technology transfer
3) Establish a communication and education system for personal protective technology: A. create a public on-line system for protective clothing communities; B. facilitate research across university, government, and industry; C. address user needs, collect user input, and provide user training and education.

Of these, the second and third objectives of NC-170 have some overlap with our project. However the scope of NC-170 is different in that their research focuses on specific protective clothing applications for firefighters deals with first responders to structural and urban fires.

Objectives

  1. Identification of comfort and fit issues related to the protective clothing of wildland firefighters.
  2. Identification and testing of textile materials suitable for protective clothing for wildland firefighters.
  3. Design development and testing of prototype personal protective clothing for wildland firefighters: A. prototype development, B. performance and human factors testing and evaluation.
  4. Education and communication of findings to government and industry wildland fire management agencies.

Methods

Objective 1: Identification of comfort issues related to the protective clothing of wildland firefighters. Participating States: CO, LA, OK, OR, WA, WY Comfort issues will be grounded in the Branson and Sweeneys (1991) clothing comfort model. The comfort model addresses both physical and social-psychological dimensions of comfort for a clothing comfort judgment. Physical dimensions of attributes of the person, clothing, and environment, including daily activities, fit, mobility, and garment design, related to comfort will be the focus of this study. Market research will be performed to establish the PPE designs currently available to wildland firefighters. Design features will be examined and analyzed in terms of potential for performance. The results of the analysis will inform the planning as well as the understanding of investigations of the comfort issues associated with PPE for wildland firefighters. To identify comfort issues related to protective gear used by wildland firefighters, input will be sought from firefighters through focus groups and interviews (Branson, Farr, Peksoz, Nam & Cao, 2004). United States Interagency and state wildland firefighting agencies will be contacted to seek assistance in finding participants. Firefighters from each of the states will be interviewed allowing for issues in diverse working environments to be addressed. All researchers participating in this objective will be involved in the development of protocols to be used for interviews and focus groups. Several of the participating states have previous experience conducting focus groups as well as one-on-one interviews. Louisiana will provide leadership for this using techniques built from experience with previous surveys in the forestry community (de Hoop et al. 1997, 2004, 2007 and 2008; Gerald and de Hoop 2008, Greene et al. 2004). Due to low populations of wildland firefighters, not all states will be involved with initial data collection, i.e. Oklahoma. However, all states will be involved with data analysis to identify the issues. Questions would probe for design features of the clothing and gear typically used, duty activities that may have been impaired due to design of the clothing and/or gear being worn, suggestions for design improvements of the uniforms to maximize comfort, typical laundering/care practices, problems with the dimensional and performance characteristics/stability of the uniforms during multiple cycles of laundering as well as during periods of prolonged wear, problems with sizing and fit of the uniforms, etc. Additionally, respondents will be asked to self-report basic body measurements to obtain anthropometric data. Issues identified through the focus groups and interviews will be used to develop a survey instrument with closed- and open-ended questions that can be deployed to a larger population of wildland firefighters to gain additional feedback on (a) concerns related to comfort (including physiological and psychological comfort) and fit (including sizing) of current protective clothing, (b) desired possible improvements of the current gear and visions for possible new designs of protective clothing, and (c) current wear and care practices and possible solutions to problems stemming from these practices. Objective 2: Identification and testing of textile materials suitable for protective clothing for wildland firefighters. Participating States: LA, OK, WA, WY Market research will be performed to determine the materials currently used in PPE equipment for wildland firefighters. Research of novel textile performance materials for use in protective clothing for firefighting will also be done, and a list of suitable materials will be compiled. Unless data about textile materials are available from the manufacturers, testing of the most-promising materials will be performed to establish the effects on the properties of the fabrics due to sun exposure, heat exposure, abrasion and wear, soiling through various agents, and laundering/cleaning procedures. OK has textile testing equipment, sweating guarded hot plate, Kawabata system, thermal manikin, which can be used in their laboratory by researchers from other participating states. Other states, i.e. WY, can conduct abrasion and wear as well as laundering procedures. Testing of prototypes, made of different fabrics, on the manikins can also be performed at OK by researchers from the other participating states. Criteria established by existing ASTM and NFPA standards will be used to determine the best performing materials under certain environmental conditions. Identification of materials currently being used will be the primary responsibility of the researcher from Louisiana. Researchers from the other participating states will be involved in testing of properties of materials identified to be used in prototype development. Objective 3: Design development and testing of prototype personal protective clothing for wildland firefighters: A. prototype development, B. performance and human factor testing and evaluation. Participating States: CO, OK, OR, WA, WY Objective 3A: Prototype Development Main considerations in design and development of personal protective equipment (PPE), is to optimize human performance based on users needs. Inevitably, design solutions will differ to reflect the user population in terms of its anthropometric dimensions and the specifics of the particular activities in terms of types and manner of motions performed. Therefore, to ensure the success of the developed PPE, the design process must begin by defining the user population and establishing an appropriate anthropometric database and identifying the tasks and motions (HFES 300 Committee, 2004) commonly performed while using the PPE. As it has already been suggested, existing PPE is only geared toward male users, neglecting the differences in body shape and size between males and females and thus providing inadequate fit for the female user. Using current anthropometric data for both the male and the female target population is imperative for the success of the design process. At present, recent and reliable anthropometric data of the civilian population are available from the CAESAR and the SizeUSA studies, completed in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Both of these studies have used three-dimensional (3D) full-body scanning technology to capture the surface of the body in 3D. Numerous body measurements are available for data analysis and new measurements could be taken from the body scans if necessary. The SizeUSA and /or CAESAR 3D body scan data will be used to represent the target population (males and females) and inform design solutions, as well as to create sizing charts for the PPE for wildland firefighters. Researchers from OK will perform the necessary analysis of anthropometric data and provide body size/proportion information necessary for successful design of PPE. To perform successfully, PPE must accommodate (a) the changes in body dimensions that occur while the body is in motion or in a working position (e.g. estimation of the elongation of the body along the spine when crouching is critical for the design of a coverall) and (b) the changes on the range of motion (ROM) when performing common tasks (e.g. range of the angle between the arm and the torso when reaching and bracing can be important for the design of an underarm gusset or a release pleat). Changes in body dimensions and ROM can be assessed using a combination of a 3D full body scanner to assess the body in static relaxed or static working positions and a motion capture system to assess body ROM, changes in ROM, and changes in body dimensions during movement. Researchers from OK and WA will perform studies with human subjects to establish prototype design criteria related to accommodating the moving human body. Subjects will be recruited to represent the population of wildland firefighters as found in previous analysis of anthropometric data. This objective will involve the development of design specifications based on objectives 1 & 2. Prototypes will be developed and wear tested with human subjects. Researchers from all participating states for this objective will be involved in the development of prototype garments. However researchers with functional design, OR, OK, and WA will assume the lead. Objective 3B: Performance and Human Factor Testing and Evaluation Comfort perception of clothing attributes contributes to satisfaction with a product end use. Fit and mobility are critical factors in the comfort performance of PPE and are essential for wearer acceptability. Movement assessment will be based on the exercise protocol from Huck and Kim (1997), based on the American Society for Testing and Materials, Standard Practices for Qualitatively Evaluating the Comfort, Fit, Function and Integrity of Chemical-Protective Suit Ensembles, 1988). Huck and Kim (1997) and Barker, Black, and Cloud (2010) selected movements for testing that best represented those movements required by the particular work environment. After the movement protocol, participants will fill out wearer acceptability scales. Considering the advanced capabilities of motion capture systems in tracking and analyzing human motion, studies of body movement being affected by clothing could be performed: first a body movement protocol will be followed without wearing a garment (baseline data) and next, the same body movement protocol will be repeated while wearing a garment. Motion capture data will yield an objective measure of garment effects on body movement (Park, Nolli, Branson, Peksoz, & Petrova, 2011; An, Branson, Peksoz & Petrova, 2011). These data will be combined with the results of subjective evaluations of comfort and fit following completion of wearer acceptability scales. Design revisions and modifications regarding comfort (including fit) and movement issues will be based on results of wear testing. Again most of the equipment required for this testing is located at OK. Lead states will be able to utilize their equipment to conduct the tests. Thermal properties of the developed prototypes can be tested and compared using a sweating thermal manikin (Branson et al, 2010; Peksoz, Kumphai, Eike, Branson & Kamenidis, 2010). Based on the test results a stage of prototype redesign may be necessary prior to performing tests with human subjects. The thermal comfort testing with human subjects will be conducted in a human environmental chamber with controlled temperature and humidity conditions by OK researchers. Participants will undergo a battery of exercises while body characteristics, such as skin and core temperature, and vitals are monitored. After thermal testing, subjects will fill out wearer acceptability scales consisting of a series of questions designed to determine how subjects feel about the prototypes performance in terms of comfort and fit (Black & Cloud, 2008; Barker & Black, 2009; Peksoz et al, 2009; Peksoz et al, 2006, Rutherford-Black & Khan, 1995). Objective 4: Education and communication of findings to government and industry wildland fire management agencies. Participating States: CO, LA, OK, OR, WA, WY The initial process will be to establish a communication network to facilitate research across university, government, and industry. The successful establishment of any network will also depend on the availability of long term financial support from agencies and industry. An online system that serves as a primary source of information for protective clothing for wildland firefighters will be developed. This system will also be publicly available and may include information about the material or garment, its availability, performance, selection, use, care, and maintenance. The system could also be developed such that it can be used to obtain user input for future research on wildland firefighter protective clothing. All participating states will be involved in disseminating information through their appropriate state and federal outlets.

Measurement of Progress and Results

Outputs

  • Development of new protective apparel designs for wildland firefighters with improved function and comfort.
  • Develop educational materials and/or trainings that can be used by federal and state government wildland fire. management agencies based on the research.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Enhanced function and comfort of protective clothing for wildland firefighters which will improve the firefighters working conditions.
  • Improved communication amongst agencies concerned with protective apparel for wildland firefighters.
  • Improved understanding by wildland firefighters in regards to function and care of personal protective clothing.
  • Findings from research activities will be disseminated through appropriate research and conference outlets.

Milestones

(2012): Conduct the needs assessment of current wildland firefighter protective clothing.

(2013): Conduct the evaluation of designs of current wildland firefighter protective clothing.

(2014): Identify materials currently used in PPE equipment for wildland firefighters as well as textile performance materials for use in protective clothing for firefighting.

(2015): Develop design specifications for the prototype, begin prototype design process. Develop garment prototypes.

(2016): Test and evaluate prototypes. Develop educational materials for federal and state interagency wildland fire management personnel; possibly transfer technologies to industry for production.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

We will develop educational materials in regards to function and care of protective clothing for wildland firefighters. Committee members from all participating states will contribute materials.

The results of the research conducted for this project will also be made available through presentations at national/international meetings, through submissions to refereed and non-refereed publications, special technical publications, and the annual reports published through NIMSS website. The online database developed as a result of the project will provide information directly to wildland firefighters and their respective agencies.

Organization/Governance

The proposed members of the technical committee for this project are listed in Appendix E. For those states having more than one participant, one member will be designated as the voting member, as determined by that institution or AES director. The organizational structure consists of a chair, a vice chair, and secretary nominated and elected annually; the vice chair serves as chair the next year. Any member of the technical committee can serve as an officer. Subcommittees of members will be appointed as necessary to complete specific tasks. The officers along with the project USDA-CSREES representative and USDA-ARS administrative advisor will serve as the executive committee. The advisors will be non-voting members.

Responsibilities of the chair include notifying the members of the date and place of the annual meeting, preparing the agenda, and presiding over the meeting. It will also be the responsibility of the chair to complete the annual report (SAES Form 422) for the year he/she serves as chair and submit it to the administrative advisor for distribution. The vice chair will assume the duties of the chair in the event that the chair cannot do so. The secretary will be responsible for taking minutes of the annual meeting and filing them with the administrative advisor for distribution within 30 days of the meeting.

The duties of the technical committee (members in Appendix E) are to coordinate the research and other activities related to the project. The technical committee will meet annually for the purposes of coordinating, reporting, and sharing research activities, procedures, and results, analyzing data, and conducting project business. The administrative advisor will be responsible for sending the technical committee members the necessary authorization for all official meetings.

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