A firefighter’s equipment is of the utmost importance as it allows them to perform their job and brave dangers while minimizing risks to their health and safety. Their equipment has undergone plenty of changes and adaptations over the years to create the effective and iconic gear we know today. Let’s take a look at how firefighting equipment has evolved.
Fire uniforms are already very effective pieces of equipment, as burns aren’t anywhere near the most common injury firefighters often experience. This has come from years of innovation and improvement that began in the 1800s.
Early fire uniform evolution was misguided; it did little to address the dangers of firefighting and focused on providing identification of a firefighter’s rank and department. Modern uniforms convey this information with standardized badges, so other improvements can keep the firefighters safe. Not only are modern uniforms great at resisting flames, but reflective tape makes firefighters much easier to spot in low-light conditions. This prevents accidents when they’re responding to emergencies at night.
The firefighters’ helmets are arguably the most iconic piece of firefighting equipment. They originated as stovepipe hats made of tin and are another crucial aspect of how firefighting equipment has evolved. The original helmets provided little protection against danger and instead were meant to make firefighters stand out from civilians. The first iteration of the modern firefighter helmet was made of leather and provided greater protection against blunt force and flames. Its unique shape prevents embers, hot water, and other debris from running down the back of a firefighter’s neck. The helmet is also where a firefighter’s identifying insignia is displayed for easy availability.
Boots and Gloves
Keeping one’s limbs safe in dangerous firefighting situations is very difficult. Protective gloves were made to give firefighters superior protection while letting them keep as much dexterity and comfort as possible. The gloves protect their hands from sharp objects, heat, and blunt forces that would otherwise crush them. Similarly, boot soles must be sturdy enough so sharp or burning debris can’t get through and immobilize a firefighter by injuring their feet. A good pair of boots is also important for preventing falls—the number one cause of firefighter injuries—by improving the wearer’s balance.