We all know that firefighters have quite the uniform. We see the jacket, the boots, the huge helmet. But what we don’t know is just how heavy, yet important, those materials and that weight is. Combatting fires requires specialized equipment and clothing, and if you want to learn more about what makes up that iconic uniform, keep on reading!
Below, we’ll discuss some of the different materials a firefighter wears. From the Kevlar in their helmets to the synthetic fibers in their pants, you’ll see all the layers that make up their day-to-day.
Jacket and Pants
The jacket and pants of a firefighter’s uniform are essential to their safety. They have to be constructed to withstand intense heat, so the different materials and fibers that make up their gear have to be high in strength and heat resistance.
More often than not, these elements of their gear are made up of aramid fiber—they’re high in heat resistance and made up of strong synthetic fibers. So much so, that they’re often used in aerospace and military applications! This is also often combined with Kevlar to increase the strength.
Another iconic piece to the firefighter uniform is that helmet. There’s a wide variety of firefighter helmets for them to choose from, but the similarities lie in their underlying materials.
A helmet is made from materials that provide excellent protection from hard impacts. But, putting too much weight and pressure on the wearer’s head with heavy materials is a no-go. So, the shell is made of carbon fiber, but the plastic surrounding is combined with the same Kevlar found in their jackets and pants.
Now, what about the boots? Firefighters can’t walk into a fire with any old tennis shoes or boots. They need specialty shoes to protect themselves from heat and falling objects.
Typically, firefighter boots are constructed of either leather or rubber, and then they are treated to be fire-retardant. To keep their feet safe from falling objects or anything of the like, the boots are then fitted with a steel toe insert.
Last but not least, gloves are the final piece to make up a firefighter’s basic essential gear. Depending on the situation a firefighter faces, the gloves may differ. If they’re not battling a fire, then they often wear work gloves, but if they are mid-fire then they’ll need specific firefighter gloves.
The work gloves are often made from leather, but the structural firefighting gloves are made from Kevlar with a spandex lining for flexibility.
All of these different strong, durable materials make for a heavy uniform—firefighter gear, on average, weighs around 45 pounds. The different materials a firefighter wears are quite impressive!