Why Quality and Fit Matter When Selecting Fire Gear

The safety of firefighting gear has come a long way. Gear standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, and NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program mostly address heat-resistance and protection from toxins.

Following complaints about comfort, the National Fire Protection Association updated standards for emergency services work apparel (NFPA 1975) that establish flame-resistant clothing that “won’t cause or exacerbate burn injury” and, while still mandating a baseline heat-resistance threshold, included uniforms that could be either 100% cotton or wool and flame-resistant uniforms.

Proper Fit of Turnout Gear

female firefighter in proper fit gear

Turnout gear that fits properly while providing comfort and dexterity is crucial to firefighter safety and when your department invests in making sure your staff and volunteers have PPE that fits well, you affirm that you care about their safety.

Fire-End prides itself on the quality of turnout gear we sell. Our sales representatives make it a priority to go to our customers and get proper size measurements. They make sure customers are satisfied with the fit of fire department turnout gear before any sale is final. Fire-End understands the importance of the fit and physiology variables that come into play with fire protection gear.

The Physiology of Performance

Following is an example of suggested testing for gear fit (without wearing an SCBA device)

  • A. NFPA 1500 Standard Position A (Fig. 4A). While standing, reach overhead as
    high as possible with your hands together. There should be no less than two
    inches of overlap from the lower edge of the inner liner of the coat to the top
    of the pants.
  • B. NFPA 1500 Position B (Fig. 4B): While standing with your hands together and
    reaching overhead as far as possible, bend forward, then to the left, then to the
    right and then backward as much as possible. There should be no less than
    two inches of overlap from the lower edge of the inner liner of the coat to the
    top of the pants in any of these positions.
  • C. Make sure the lower edge of your pants overlaps the top of your boots by
    four to six inches. Make sure your gloves and wristlets overlap each other by
    several inches, leaving no gaps where wrists might be exposed.

The standards set for firefighting gear specify sizes for chest, waist, sleeves, and inseams and there are separate specifications for gender, but the standards don’t address various body types or shapes.

Additionally, standards set for overlap between a jacket and trouser account for the need to reach overhead while standing upright or while bent over at a 90-degree angle, but they don’t account for the many other body movements and angles that occur while actively fighting a fire. Wearing a coat without adequate overlap could result in serious injury.

Gear needs to protect firefighters from exposure to heat, chemicals, and other toxins, but it also needs to allow for continued coverage through extreme movement.

Fire Gear Safety and Performance

Ill-fitting gear is a risk and a nuisance, especially for female firefighters. To that end, many LION products are offered in sizes that fit a broader range of body types to eliminate the need for females having to alter their gear on their own to “just make it work.”

Annually, The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge serves as a proving ground for protective clothing and participants routinely commend LION gear for being light, fast, and comfortable.

Much of Fire-End gear has been engineered by working side-by-side with emergency services professionals. We genuinely strive to meet the needs of those in the field. It’s why products like our LION StationWear (NFPA 1975 compliant) and job shirts (super durable but also comfortable and easily washable) are some of the most popular and functional gear out there.

Our top brand, LION, is committed to enhanced comfort and mobility of ergonomically designed turnout coat and pants patterns. Fire-End sales representatives partner with LION and other brands to ensure your gear is the right size and feel for each customer.

Give us a call to discuss your department’s turnout gear needs.