Manufacturers Offering More Ergonomic, More Protective Wildland Turnout Gear
BY ALAN M. PETRILLO
Wildland fire personnel use personal protective equipment (PPE) that is designed and constructed for their special needs, which are different in a number of respects from structural turnout gear and which include durability, comfort, and protection.
Wildland turnout gear must stand up to grueling conditions, handling thick brush and intense heat, sometimes for weeks on deployment. Additionally, this PPE is often compliant with both National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, and NFPA 1951, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents.
PGI Inc. makes the FireLine™ Multi Mission PPE that is designed to be a lightweight, flexible, and breathable alternative to traditional structural turnout gear, according to Jim Sonntag, PGI’s president. “FireLine Multi Mission is compliant with both NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951 standards,” Sonntag says, “and the gear pulls sweat from the skin by moving it to the surface, so it rapidly evaporates, allowing the wearer to remain cooler and drier, reducing the potential for heat stress while improving overall performance of routine tasks.”
Sonntag says FireLine Multi Mission’s outer shell is made from either DuPont’s Nomex® IIIA inherently flame-resistant fabric in a plain weave that’s finished with Super Shelltite™, a durable water-repellent and stain-resistant finish, or Safety Components Sigma™ 4 Star inherently flame-resistant fabric in a twill weave with a durable water-repellent finish. The pant has articulated elbows and knees, he notes, while the coat has generous gusseting that allows the wearer to reach above his head without the hem riding up. Elbows and cuffs are reinforced with TenCate’s Pioneer™ fabric, Sonntag adds.
Alysha Gray, product marketing director for fire PPE at Lion, says Lion makes VersaPro™ and VersaPro™ Plus turnout gear that is compliant with both NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951. “VersaPro has a seven-ounce Sigma™ outer shell, made by Safety Components, that is 45 percent Meta-aramid, 32 percent Lenzing FR, 17 percent polyamide, and six percent para-aramid,” Gray says.
She notes that VersaPro gear is breathable, including Lion’s Ventilated Trim™, “which allows great flexibility and range of motion when maneuvering in tight spaces, and provides maximum protection without weighing a firefighter down,” Gray points out. “VersaPro Plus gear has all the attributes of VersaPro with the addition of 3M™ Scotchlite™ II vertical leg trim, added Scotchlite II triple trim on the coat, polycoated aramid reinforcement in the cuffs and knees for greater abrasion resistance, and a radio pocket on the chest of the coat.”
Eric Baker, director of strategic business development for Safety Components, points out that Sigma is inherently fire-resistant. “Sigma is a three-fiber blend,” he says, “50 percent aramid, and a mix of Lenzing FR and nylon. It offers the best combination of protection, durability, and comfort.”
Todd Herring, director of marketing for Fire-Dex, says Fire-Dex makes TECGEN51 Fatigues turnout gear that is compliant with both NFPA 1977 for wildland use and NFPA 1951 for technical rescue. “The TECGEN51 fabric is a flame-resistant, twill weave material built from a combination of TECGEN fibers and para-aramids,” Herring says. “The fiber is a high-density carbon shell surrounding a flexible core, which offers increased durability, flexibility, and comfort over typical carbon-based fibers. Its unique blend is balanced to achieve optimal strength, high thermal protection from radiant heat, and breathability.”
Stuart Perry, brand communications manager for TenCate, notes that Tecasafe Plus, a woven twill fabric TenCate makes, is compliant with both NFPA 1977 and 1951. “TenCate’s biggest selling turnout gear products are our Firebreak 362 shirt and 469 pant in Nomex,” Perry says. “The shirt is yellow and the pant is green, and both are compliant with NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Apparel. We also sell Defender M turnout gear, which is compliant with the NFPA 1977 wildland standard and the NFPA 1951 technical rescue standard.”
John Therrien, national sales manager for Lakeland Fire, says Lakeland introduced its line of wildland gear a year and a half ago. “We make two different pants, regular and vented; coveralls; and a vented jacket,” Therrien says. “We built in a lot more ergonomics into this gear and more tailored fitting.”
The jacket is 32 inches in length with a beveled cut longer in back and has a two-piece tube sleeve, vertical pleats on the shoulders and arm pleats for better movement, elasticized cuffs, and two base pockets with hand warmers. The wildland pant is vented in the crotch and behind the triple pleated knees and has a roomier cut at the waist, deep side pockets, and two rear pockets. Lakeland also makes coveralls, a wildland jacket, and a pant that are compliant with both NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951.
Ryan Davidson, director of sales for Crew Boss, says his company has been providing wildland turnout gear to firefighters for more than 30 years. “Our TREX turnout gear is compliant to both NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951,” Davidson points out. “TREX also has features and pockets on the garment that allow firefighters to improve the function of their job.” Crew Boss also makes a brush pant that meets both NFPA 1977 and 1951 standards, as well as brush pant versions in Classic and Elite models.
NFPA 1977 COMPLIANT
Herring points out that Fire-Dex also makes the Chieftain brand of turnout gear that meets the NFPA 1977 standard. “We offer Chieftain wildland gear in coat, pant, and coverall styles in a variety of fabrics and colors, including an ultra soft cotton from Milliken, a Nomex® fabric, and an Edura cotton,” he says.
“We also make a Brush shirt in a simple, traditional design that meets NFPA 1977 and is made to be worn as a single layer shirt tucked in with a tee underneath,” Davidson says. “We also make an Interface jacket, which is an outward facing jacket style garment which has large cargo pockets and additional features for gloves and equipment, which come in handy when operating in the wildland urban interface, and the Gen II jacket, a CAL FIRE style garment that’s a blend of the Interface jacket and Brush shirt.”
Steve Misiano, president of True North, says True North began in business 26 years ago as a consumer backpack maker, then took its patented suspension and designed it for wildland firefighter use. “Some customers asked us to consider improving on wildland fire turnout gear, so we looked at what existed and explored how we could make it better, more comfortable, and more functional,” Misiano says. “The result is our Slayer™ brush shirt and wildland pant that are compliant with the NFPA 1977 standard.”
The Slayer brush shirt is made from either TenCate’s 5.8-ounce Tecasafe™ Plus fabric or TenCate’s 7-ounce Advance fabric, Misiano says. “If the firefighter will be in a rough environment where there are a lot of sharp things and abrasion issues, durability is very important, so we might recommend Advance, or if a department wants a lighter weight, then we would offer Tecasafe Plus.” The Slayer brush shirt has a zippered chest pocket with an internal headphone port, a second chest pocket with hook-and-loop closures, and a stand-up collar. The brush pant has a Tri-Fit™ micro-adjustable elastic waist band, a diamond-gusseted crotch panel for greater range of motion and reduced chaffing, Wear-Guard™ patches on the inside of cuffs for maximum durability, and engineered cargo pockets to prevent snagging.
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.