Gloves, Petrillo, PPE

Hand Protection Evolves to Cover Variety of Fire Service Tasks

Issue 4 and Volume 22.

By Alan M. Petrillo

Gloves are a major element in a firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE) envelope, and PPE manufacturers have evolved firefighting gloves into specialty areas of operations, from structural to rescue to wildland to specialty rescue.

Structural Firefighting Gloves

Karen Lehtonen, vice president of innovation and product management for Lion, says Lion makes six types of structural firefighting gloves, primarily made of leather with CrossTech barriers and various types of thermal protection. “Our most dexterous glove is the Lion Primus, a leather glove made with a combination of cow and sheep leather,” Lehtonen says. “It’s a 3-D glove pattern with a forchette area in between the fingers, made from sheep grain leather, which is softer and more flexible. It has a gauntlet-style cuff and is offered in regular and cadet sizes and in two extra-small and four extra-large versions. The Primus gives a better fit to the firefighter’s hand, which means better mobility.”

1 Lion’s Primus structural firefighting gloves have a 3-D pattern with a forchette area on the fingers and a gauntlet-style cuff and are made from more flexible sheep grain leather. (Photos 1-4 courtesy of Lion.)
1 Lion’s Primus structural firefighting gloves have a 3-D pattern with a forchette area on the fingers and a gauntlet-style cuff and are made from more flexible sheep grain leather. (Photos 1-4 courtesy of Lion.)

Lion also makes the Lion Commander and Commander Ace structural firefighting gloves, Lehtonen points out. “The Commander is a long-standing model we offer where we enhanced the cut of the glove in three pieces for where the fingers and hand bend to give the glove more flexibility and dexterity. It’s offered in both wristlet and gauntlet style.”

Lehtonen adds, “The Commander Ace has the Commander’s design and performance but shortens the cuff to interface better with a turnout coat sleeve. It also has extra thermal protection on the back of the hand.”

2 Lion’s Commander structural firefighting gloves are crafted so that the fingers and hand bend to give the glove more flexibility and dexterity.
2 Lion’s Commander structural firefighting gloves are crafted so that the fingers and hand bend to give the glove more flexibility and dexterity.

Tony Moore, regional sales manager for Fire-Dex, says his company makes the Dex-Pro structural firefighting glove, which, he notes, “the market is calling a driver’s glove because it has excellent dexterity.” Moore says the Dex-Pro has an ergonomic thumb pattern sewn separately into the palm of the glove to give it a 360° range of motion and maximum flexibility.

“This 3-D glove’s palm back and sides allow for a proper grip with the firefighter’s thumb,” Moore says. “And the dropped position of the pinky finger reflects its actual location on the firefighter’s hand. The palm is rolled back over the finger to eliminate the seam at the end of the finger, and the forchettes, which are the side panels, are precurved for each finger, giving them a natural form.”

3 Lion’s Commander Ace structural gloves have shortened cuffs to interface better with a turnout coat.
3 Lion’s Commander Ace structural gloves have shortened cuffs to interface better with a turnout coat.

Moore points out that the old-fashioned manner of curing leather left it stiff once it became wet and then dried. “We put silicone in the curing of our leather so it remains soft after drying once it has been wet,” he says. “The three-ounce cowhide we use is incredibly hard wearing, the glove has a one-ounce goatskin knuckle band, the moisture barrier is Vapor Flex, and there’s a nine-ounce military grade Nomex thermal liner.”

Honeywell First Responder Products offers an array of structural firefighting gloves, including its TMAX Super Glove, Fire Mate, Gauntlet, Eclipse, and Wristlet models. TMAX uses goatskin and cowhide, Super Glove is 3-D hand shaped, Firemate uses a kangaroo leather palm and an elk hide back, and Eclipse models use polyurethane moisture barriers.

4 Lion’s VersaPro Plus XTreme gloves have beefed-up palms and knuckle protection, useful for rescue and extrication work.
4 Lion’s VersaPro Plus XTreme gloves have beefed-up palms and knuckle protection, useful for rescue and extrication work.

Shelby Specialty Gloves makes several models of structural firefighting gloves of brushed pigskin, tanned cowhide, heavy weight elk hide, and split cowhide.

Dragon Fire Gloves makes the Alpha X structural firefighting glove out of Italian top grain cow and swine hide with a Kovenex thermal liner and a thermal urethane vapor barrier.

Rescue and Technical Gloves

Michael Ens of HexArmor says his company got into the fire service market for gloves about four years ago, focusing on rescue and extrication gloves. “We make the EXT Rescue extrication gloves using our SuperFabric®,” Ens says. “Our 4011 model has a thicker back of the hand for impact protection, the 4012 is a streamlined version with a hook-and-loop fastener cuff and aramid fiber/polyurethane blend palm, the 4013 has a smaller palm and gauntlet-style cuff, and the 4014 has a hook-and-loop fastener cuff and waterproof pathogen resistant barrier.”

Ens says the 4012 model has been HexArmor’s most popular glove “because it’s so protective, is lower in cost, and is an all-purpose glove.” Ens adds that HexArmor is working on other glove designs for road rescue, structural firefighting, and station work.

5 Fire-Dex’s Dex-Pro structural firefighting glove has an ergonomic thumb pattern sewn separately into the glove’s palm to give it a 360° range of motion for maximum flexibility. (Photo courtesy of Fire-Dex
5 Fire-Dex’s Dex-Pro structural firefighting glove has an ergonomic thumb pattern sewn separately into the glove’s palm to give it a 360° range of motion for maximum flexibility. (Photo courtesy of Fire-Dex.)

Lion makes a series of rescue gloves with beefed-up palms and knuckle protection on some models, Lehtonen says. The models come in various styles of wrist closure and lengths, and most are made of flame-resistant materials.

Honeywell’s technical rescue gloves are the Super Glove Wristlet model and the Fire Mate model made with a kangaroo leather palm and a pliable elk back.

6 Fire-Dex’s 3-D Dex-Pro gloves eliminate the seams at the end of the fingers and use precurved forchettes (side panels) for each finger, giving them a natural form. (Photo courtesy of Fire-Dex
6 Fire-Dex’s 3-D Dex-Pro gloves eliminate the seams at the end of the fingers and use precurved forchettes (side panels) for each finger, giving them a natural form. (Photo courtesy of Fire-Dex.)

Shelby Specialty Gloves makes three versions of precurved Xtrication® rescue gloves, including one with a Hipora waterproof barrier, as well as a goatskin rescue glove.

Other Gloves

Lion offers models of cold-weather gloves, work gloves, and mechanic gloves, where the design and manufacture are aimed at avoiding pinch points that can cause abrasion and cuts to a glove.

7 HexArmor makes the EXT Rescue Extrication gloves in four models, each using its proprietary SuperFabric.
7 HexArmor makes the EXT Rescue Extrication gloves in four models, each using its proprietary SuperFabric.

Lehtonen points out that the bulkier a manufacturer makes a glove to protect the wearer from heat, the less dexterous the glove will be. “Gloves are a challenge in balancing the protection required for the firefighter with functionality,” she says.

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

8 HexArmor’s EXT Rescue Extrication gloves come in gauntlet and hook-and-loop fastener-style cuffs, and one model has a waterproof pathogen-resistant barrier. (Photo courtesy of HexArmor
8 HexArmor’s EXT Rescue Extrication gloves come in gauntlet and hook-and-loop fastener-style cuffs, and one model has a waterproof pathogen-resistant barrier. (Photo courtesy of HexArmor.)