Turnout gear is the protective uniform that firefighters wear while fighting fires. Personal Protective Equipment and turnout gear are one and the same, but the latter is the professional name. Also referred to as bunker gear or PPE, there is a lot to understand about this important equipment.
This gear is worn every time firefighters are in and around fire. However, the gear they wear today is very different from what they wore in the past. Older equipment was not nearly as efficient in protecting firemen as the new gear of today. Let's take a closer look. For affordable laundry equipment in North Carolina for fire departments, call T & L.
Historically, firemen worked from outside a burning building or structure because their gear was not able to keep them from getting burned. Now, they're able to work right through the flames.
Today's gear offers three layers of protection. In addition, there are breathing apparatuses - SCBA, pass devices and communication equipment that allows firefighters to protect themselves and talk with one another during their fight.
Fire resistant fabric that is made from Nomex and Kevlar or polybenzimidazole make up the turnout jackets and pants. The National Fire Protection Association has come up with a protocol for the protective gear that ensure all items made adhere to a specific design. They're certified upon completion and have to meet various requirements before they're able to be worn in a fire. This includes all turnout gear, including the following:
- Interface components
The three layers of turnout gear ensure the utmost protection. There is a thermal layer that offers protection against the heat of the fire. It's essential to ensure the firemen don't overheat or become burned from the hot temperatures they'll encounter during their time fighting a fire.
Another layer, called the moisture barrier, protects firefighters from water. It is water resistant but quite fragile. It's also a crucial part of the overall turnout gear. But, because it's the most likely to become damaged, it must go through an inspection every 12 months to ensure that it's working at capacity.
The outer shell is the final layer of turnout gear that works like a protective shield. Because it's on the outer part of the overall ensemble, it's most vulnerable.
This outer layer actually provides almost 30% of the overall protection. It is not a major source of heat protection but it does complete the entire turnout gear system. Without the outer shell, flames could compromise the rest of the system.
Understanding turnout gear is important because learning to launder it is key in maintaining its protective elements. In our next post we will talk more about why dirty fire gear is dangerous and how you can keep it laundered. Be sure to visit back with us soon!
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