Wildland firefighting is physically demanding and exceptionally hazardous. The safety gear used and worn by these working professionals is designed to not only keep them comfortable and safe - but potentially save their lives.
The standard wildland firefighting uniform generally consists of green brush pants, a long-sleeved yellow fire shirt, overcoat & overpants, boots, gloves, helmets, eye protection, and chainsaw chaps.
The following is a more detailed run-down of what the typical wildland firefighter wears and carries in their pack:
Wildland pants are loose-fitting, able to be secured around the ankles, inherently flame-resistant (FR), and are usually designed to have large pockets for plenty of storage. Well-fitted wildland firefighting pants (a.k.a brush pants) should provide total coverage of the legs and allow for total freedom of movement.
The yellow long-sleeved wildland firefighting shirts (a.k.a brush shirts) are inherently flame resistant and are able to be secured at the collar and wrists for maximum protection. The bright yellow color provides contrast against surroundings and helps to ensure all team members are able to be seen at all times.
Wildland-specific overshirts and overpants are multipurpose apparel on the fireline. Most notably, these garments can be worn over the top of the uniform to provide an added layer of protection from the cold while not compromising on safety standards via the use of synthetic materials prone to melting commonly used in cold-weather gear.
Wildland fire boots are very different than the rubber boots usually associated with structural firefighters. This is due to wildland firefighters putting a very different set of demands on their boots when trekking across the remote wilderness and working extremely long hours.
A well-made wildland firefighter boot is going to be made of premium vegetable-tanned leather, have a hard-rubber non-slip lugged sole, have an 8- 10 inch rise, and be stitched with fire-resistant threads.
Leather gloves are standard for most work on the firelines. Flame, heat, cut, and puncture-resistant cowhide leather is generally the material used for these simple items. In some cases, individuals may choose to purchase premium specialty gloves that are constructed from a blend of FR materials and design to be lighter and more comfortable than standard leather gloves.
Helmets are an absolutely essential piece of protective equipment. Wildland-specific helmets are made of heat-resistant thermoplastics in order to meet the unique needs of forestry firefighters. The most notable of which is the need for the helmet to not melt or lose strength during/after exposure to extreme heat.
Breathing can become difficult on a smokey fireline, and smoke inhalation is the cause of many firefighter deaths. For this reason, firefighters wear flame-resistant shrouds and masks on the job.
A quality pair of safety glasses and/or goggles are also needed on the fireline due to dirt, debris, ash, smoke, and sawdust being inescapable. Defending against some of these seemingly benign hazards can go a long way to maintaining a firefighter’s security and comfort in the already dangerous and dynamic environment that is a wildfire.
Operating chainsaws is inherently dangerous. Operating chainsaws while exhausted, potentially dehydrated, and standing on uneven ground is incredibly dangerous. In this case, Chainsaw Chaps are worn over the top of the wildland brush pants while operating chainsaws. The protective garment is meant to be snagged and immediately jam a run chainsaw before the blades are able to contact flesh and/or cause life-threatening injuries.
In addition to today's wildland shirts and Nomex fire pants, firefighters will also need to carry a variety of items including fire shelters, canteens, Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs), and sunscreen.
A fire shelter is a pup-tent-like shelter that a firefighter can use in the event that he or she is surrounded by flames and cannot find an escape route. The tent provides a temporary shield from the extreme heat and a pocket of breathable air just large enough for users to survive a passing wall of flames.
Studies indicate wildland firefighters need to drink a minimum of one quart of fluid for each hour of work. Working in a prolonged dehydrated state can lead to serious issues such as heat stroke, muscle breakdown, dizziness, and even kidney failure. This means a quality canteen can be a lifeline in the field.
Hearing loss is a very real threat to the health and safety of the modern forestry worker due to prolonged exposure to unsafe levels of noise brought about by heavy machinery, falling trees, and chainsaws. In light of this, a quality pair of earmuffs or other hearing protection devices need to be carried at all times.
This may not be an obvious item, but it sure is simple to understand. Living and working outdoors for days on end will leave a forestry worker exposed to the sun’s UV rays for very long periods of time. Sunburn - at any level - can become excruciatingly painful when exposed to even the slightest bit of heat from a forest fire. Preventing sunburn is an absolute necessity for wildland firefighters in order to keep them performing to the very best of their abilities.
A complete wildland firefighter uniform can be built for roughly $650- $2,000. The additional equipment necessary to “fireline ready” raises this price tag to around $3,500 - $5,000.
While these numbers may seem high to some people, it’s important to remember these items are not average clothing and/or camping equipment. They are highly regulated purpose-built pieces of safety equipment designed to prevent catastrophic injury and death.
Propper has met the evolving needs of the military and first responders of all kinds for over 50 years. All of our wildland firefighter clothing is made with the level of care dedicated servicemen expect. Intuitive features, quality fabrics, and innovation are integrated into every garment for unbeatable form and function that looks as good as it feels.
For more information on wildland clothing, give us a call today at 800-296-9690 or send us an email at email@example.com.