Firefighters constantly expose themselves to life-or-death situations. Firefighters must withstand the dangers of heat, toxic fumes, sharp objects, chemical leaks and electricity. In such emergencies, it is essential to wear the full set of protective gear for their safety. Firefighting ensembles called Personal Protective Equipment to protect firefighters in the line of duty. It consists of a tunic made of synthetic fire-resistant fabric, capable of providing a high level of thermal resistance without exacerbating the heat stress a firefighter is exposed to. For extra protection for the head and neck, firefighters are also required to wear flash hoods. In addition, lightweight helmets are also employed for protection from heat. To provide protection to the feet, firefighters use special boots, which are designed for protection against water and fire. Firefighter boots tend to be lightweight and ensure better ankle support. Another significant clothing item is the fire-resistant gloves which ensure protection against several risks faced by firefighters. Firefighters are also provided with over trousers as an added layer of protection against the heat. The over-trousers are loose garments which allow for air circulation.
One of the major pieces of equipment used by firefighters is the Breathing Apparatus. The breathing apparatus includes a mask with a hose connected to an oxygenated air tank. The breathing apparatus enables a firefighter to explore the smoke-filled areas to search and rescue unconscious victims. The equipment is carried around the firefighter’s back during duty. Another of the essential gears of a firefighter is the Personal Alert Safety System or PASS. The device is essentially a GPS, which is employed to monitor the location of the firefighter during the action. If a firefighter is in danger or is trapped in a location, they can activate the small transmitter manually. The device also goes off when no movement is detected for a specific period of time. The transmissions from PASS enable other firefighters to find the locations of an injured firefighter in the burning building.
In situations where there is a storm or flood, firefighters use a completely different set of gear. In addition, firefighters who work in relatively colder weather are provided with more additional clothing to protect them against harsh weather. Some of the gear used include heavyweight socks, long heavyweight raincoats etc. In situations where firefighters operate in roadways or open fields, they wear a lime yellow vest with reflective tapes attached to make themselves clearly visible. The common materials used for firefighting gears are cotton, nylon and polyester. Cotton absorbs moisture and therefore decreases the heat stress on the firefighter during an operation. Synthetic fibres such as Nylon and Polyester absorb less moisture and are extremely strong and heat resistant. Having the proper gear is extremely important during rescue operations, where they continuously put themselves at risk to rescue others.