From personal protective equipment to fire engines, there’s a whole variety of inventions that contribute to firefighter safety and performance. The evolution of essential fire supplies has further increased public safety and fire station efficacy, improving firefighters’ rescue and extinguishing approaches and response times. Discover how firefighting equipment has evolved with the help of firefighters’ intuition and advancements in technology.
Fire Uniforms and Their Improvements
As you might imagine, the road to a comprehensive, fire- and heat-resistant uniform was long and complicated. Many attempts to create the perfect firefighting apparel flopped due to being too uncomfortable, bulky, or insufficient.
Now, we have double-layered turnout gear. While the interior materials wick away sweat and moisture, the exterior materials shield the wearer from heat and scorching objects.
The Evolution of the Fire Helmet
To reflect on how firefighting equipment has evolved, we look at the history of one of the most important firefighter uniform elements – the helmet.
The Helmet’s History
The first-ever fire helmet was made of incredibly thick leather, which offered first responders a surprising amount of protection. It donned a wide brim and iconic high crown that has since decreased in size.
The second fire helmet model continued to utilize protective leather. Its brim, however, enlisted the help of wiring to boost its resistance to heat and moisture.
The firefighter helmet we’re most familiar with today derives from the 1836 original design of Henry T. Gratacap. The helmet’s design offered the most protection yet, safeguarding firefighters from head trauma when tending to burning, collapsing structures.
The Helmet Today
Though today’s fire helmets share a similar design to Gratacap’s, they’re manufactured in a variety of materials. Leather is still a very popular option for firefighters, especially those who want to maintain the traditional look. Firefighters in need of something more lightweight often lean toward modern composite helmets. Whatever your preference, you can rest assured that your helmet of choice will meet at least the NFPA 1971 standards, as all fire helmets must.
Advances in Firefighting Gloves
Any firefighter’s uniform would be incomplete without a reliable set of gloves. Back in the day, firefighters were limited to using cloth or leather for their duties, foregoing comfort to protect their hands from sharp or hot materials.
Now, there are three types of gloves most used by firefighters: tactical, rescue, and firefighting. Each type of glove has its own special features that make it optimal for varying firefighting demands. All of them, rest assured, are made of more durable and amenable materials to provide firefighters with the utmost dexterity, grip, and comfort.