Firefighters possess a number of uniforms. He wears a different uniform in the firehouse than during fire response activities, and yet another uniform during formal occasions such as ceremonies. The components of a uniform correspond directly with the situation during which a firefighter wears a specific type of uniform. In addition to the standard components of their different uniforms, firefighters have access to items only worn during certain fire response procedures.
Standard and Dress Uniforms
Standard and dress uniforms sometimes constitute and the same thing, while in other cases these uniforms differ slightly from one another. As a general rule, standard uniforms consist of dress pants, a button-up shirt with either long or short sleeves, a leather belt and dress shoes. Some firehouses require ties with the standard uniform while others do not. Dress uniforms always require a tie and often stipulate the color of the tie in relation to the color of the shirt, pants and firehouse badge. Dress uniforms also include jackets and formal hats like those worn by police officers. Some firehouse fire and drum units allow kilts rather than trousers in formal uniforms.
Work uniforms constitute the uniforms worn by on duty firefighters while in the firehouse. Such a uniform consists of pants, a shirt and appropriate footwear. Shirts should be T-shirts, sweatshirts or polo shirts that indicate the firehouse for which the firefighter works. Firehouses issue work shirts embroidered with the badge of the department for such uniforms. Some fire companies mandate that shirts display lettering size and type in keeping with the rank of the individual. Work uniform trousers must be appropriate for the quick movement required of firefighters and not so loose as to prohibit the wearing of thicker response pants and fire boots over them.
Fire Response Gear
Fire response gear constitutes those items most commonly associated with the uniform of a firefighter. Components of such uniforms include high visibility jackets, boots, helmets, pants, suspenders and gloves. High visibility jackets reflect light to make firefighters visible to citizens and other firefighters. All items of a response uniform, from the gloves to the trousers, boots and jacket, protect firefighters from the extreme heat emitted by fires. Fire helmets have see through visors that protect the eyes of the wearer when lowered. Suspenders keep up response gear pants, which are baggy and loose so the pants can be quickly and easily put on. Firefighters entering the radius of a fire of a flaming building wear oxygen tanks and masks.
Problems With Uniform Components
A study conducted by the authors of “Protecting Emergency Responders” through interviews with firefighters concluded that firefighters feel well protected in general by their response uniforms but express a few concerns. According to the book, many firefighters expressed problems with their gloves, calling them old and difficult to work with. Some firefighters admitted to no wearing gloves at all, as department-issued gloves inhibited their ability to do their jobs. Other firefighters pointed out that uniform components often work individually but don’t seem designed as a unit. When worn together, items like boots, pants and jackets collude to restrict movement. Furthermore, these items often prove poorly ventilated. While they protect from the heat of fires, they cause stress, exhaustion and steam burns.
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