Firefighters come across a lot of dangers during their daily tasks. In order to get the job done, they’re always prepared with special equipment that offers protection in hazardous situations.
Firefighting equipment in the past offered a low level of protection. However, today’s new and improved designs allow firefighters to enter structures and come face to face with fire with little to no risks.
The clothes that firefighters used to wear in the past were limiting and exposed firemen to hazards. They provided warmth and dryness, but didn’t offer protection from fire. For this reason, firemen could rarely enter buildings when dealing with a fire and did most of their operations from outside.
Thanks to today’s new and improved technology, these specialised clothing pieces allow more efficiency for putting out fires and better protection for the professionals. But what are fire fighting clothes made of? To use them in the field, they need to meet certain standards that are set by firefighting organisations. The modern firefighting clothes are manufactured from sturdy materials such as proban treated cotton.
This fabric has flame retardant properties and it’s durable for long term use. The controlled technological process of treating cotton and other materials allows them to retain aesthetics and comfort while adding fire resistance. For maximum practicality in dangerous situations, they come in several layers. These are usually a moisture barrier, a thermal layer and the outermost layer which is waterproof, durable and treated with a flame retardant.
Bunker or turnout gear is a common name for the protective firefighting clothes. The term bunker gear comes from the fact that firefighters used to keep their trousers and boots near their bunks at the fire station. This allowed them to get ready for emergency situations more quickly.
The basic clothing pieces for firemen include:
- Trousers: A pair of turnout trousers is the first needed item. In order to withstand the heavy weights of the tools and the rigorous activities, you will need to pair them with heavy duty suspenders.
- Coat: Turnout coats are useful firefighting clothes that contain large pockets where you can fit pieces of equipment. Their sleeves are oversized, with additional lining at the ends, to protect your wrists from getting burns.
- Boots: Turnout boots look much like ordinary boots, but they have a different construction. They’re made from rubber or leather and contain a steel toe insert. Their construction is durable and puncture resistant, which keeps you safe from stepping on various sharp objects. Due to the many potential hazards at a fire scene, I advise you to tuck your trousers inside your boots for more protection.
- Helmet: A fire helmet is essential for providing protection to your head which makes it as important as the adequate pieces of fireman clothes. In the past they were only used to shed water, but today’s modern helmets have several functions. They protect you from heat, burns, electricity, falling debris or any kind of injury to the head when fighting a fire. Some models even come with a special fire-treated visor that provides additional safety for the face.
Fire helmets are made up of four basic parts:
- A lightweight and well-balanced helmet shell. This component has a front brim, rear brim and a raised top, which help protect the face and neck and provide stability from impact.
- A sponge rubber impact ring.
- A high-density helmet liner. This adjustable component is usually made out of fire-retardant cotton.
- A flexible chin strap.
Firefighters use a variety of different tools on their everyday missions; however here are some of the most important pieces of equipment that should be on top of your checklist:
- Personal flashlights: When dealing with a building on fire, there is a large possibility that you will come across dark halls caused by electrical issues. The high concentration of smoke is another factor that causes problems with visibility while you’re on the job. Carrying a personal light will help you in these difficult situations. For better effectiveness, carry several forms of lights, such as a handheld flashlight, a helmet light and a right-angle light. The most convenient type of lights are the helmet lights. They’re a bit more stable than a right-angled light, which is clipped to your coat, and they don’t occupy your hands.
- Multitool: Multitools are considered a staple of any emergency kit. They are durable, convenient and contain a variety of different tools. Carrying a bunch of tools with you puts a lot of weight and slows the operation down. Additionally, taking the time to fetch the right tool can have consequences in certain emergency situations. A quality multitool will offer you everything you need in a more convenient form.
- Hose straps: These tools provide great versatility when handling a charged fire hose. They also allow you to secure hose lines, stabilise a person while you’re moving them, and keep doors open or closed.
- Escape rope: In a dangerous profession such as firefighting, an escape rope can be a life saver more than once. When all exits are blocked from fires or objects that are stuck, a rope lets you safely descend out of the window. Firefighters always carry this convenient tool with them.