Common Hazards on the Fire Ground

Fire protection, such as fire turnout gear, is used to shield firefighters from hazards including flames, extreme heat, and smoke during emergency responses. Working in these dangerous environments requires robust, multi-layered fire protection that can withstand extreme conditions.

In addition to the fire itself, firefighters must also protect themselves from:

  • Falling debris and collapsing structure
  • Explosive chemicals and substances that become carcinogenic when burned
  • Infectious agents
  • And more


Firefighters use a combination of fire protective gear to keep themselves safe on the job, including a fire coat, fire pants, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), gloves, boots, and a helmet. Depending on the type of call they are responding to, firefighters may be required to wear different fire protection.

Safety Standards for Firefighting PPE

Firefighters are exposed to multiple hazards – even some during a single response call. Firefighters are routinely exposed to an array of safety and health hazards at fire scenes. In addition to working in the presence of fire or explosive materials, firefighters must contend with weather-related temperature extremes.

NFPA Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the body that sets requirements for the design, performance, and certification for fire protective gear. Their statutes cover structural, wildland, extrication, and proximity firefighting PPE, among other items.

Here are some of the NFPA standards that often apply to protective fire gear:

  • NFPA 1971: Minimum level of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and bloodborne pathogen hazards encountered during structural and proximity fire fighting
  • NFPA 1977: Protect against the adverse environmental effects encountered by personnel performing wildland fire fighting operations
  • NFPA 1951: Assigned to or involved in search, rescue, treatment, recovery, decontamination, site stabilization, extrication, and similar operations at technical rescue incidents
Backside shot of Lakeland fire gear being worn by a firefighter entering a firetruck

What PPE Do Firefighters Need?

Illustration depicting the outer shell, moisture barrier, and thermal liner layers of turnout gear
Turnout Gear
Illustration depicting the lightness, robustness, and extensive storage capacity of wildland fire gear
Wildland Gear
Illustration depicting extrication gear's lightweight construction and inherent protection against bodily fluids and viral agents
Extrication Gear
Illustration depicting the unique combination of expansion pockets, passing of NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951 standards, and pleated design of dual-certified gear
Dual Certified Gear

Turnout Gear

Firefighting turnout gear is used by firefighters working to extinguish a structural fire.

Composed of a thermal liner, moisture barrier, and outer shell, tends to be bulkier than other gear.

  • Outer shell: The outer shell is the first, outermost layer in fire protective gear. It acts as the first line of defense in protecting firefighters from direct flame and cuts/abrasions, offering one quarter of total thermal protection. Since it provides flame resistance and protection against cuts from debris, the outer shell is made from extremely durable fabric. However, this layer must also allow for firefighters to move comfortably throughout the fire ground, so it’s critical that the fire protective gear is designed with motion in mind.
  • Moisture barrier: Should the outer shell be compromised, the moisture barrier protects the firefighter when they encounter common liquids and potentially hazardous chemicals, even viral contaminations. The moisture barrier also helps improve the breathability of turnout gear due to its moisture-wicking properties. The moisture barrier is composed of flame-resistant fabric and is the most delicate of the three layers in a set of firefighting turnout gear.
  • Thermal liner: The final layer within a set of firefighting turnout gear, the thermal liner composes the remaining three quarters of total thermal protection. However, thermal liners can also greatly impact breathability, so it’s crucial that the right fabrics are used to deter any negative effect on the wearer.Thermal liners are often a combination of non-woven fabric and smooth, quilted cloth. The cloth surface is often outward facing and must be slick to ensure easy donning and doffing of the gear, while the non-woven fabric should help maximize air flow between layers.


Wildland Fire Gear

Wildfires play a huge role in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres across the globe each year. Not every department must prepare for wildland firefighting, but those who do understand that the requirements for gear are vastly different than standard structural turnout gear.

For wildland firefighters, there are various apparatus that the team must use to extinguish the flames – both the ground and from the air. Maneuvering tough terrain and debris or climbing in and out of brush trucks and helicopters, requires wildland firefighters to be almost inhumanly quick and agile. Therefore, wildland gear is often much lighter than turnout gear.

However, wildland gear must still offer robust protection against flame and heat, plenty of pockets and options for tool storage, and be designed with durability, visibility, and mobility in mind.


Extrication Gear

Most response calls a firefighter makes often will not involve fires. In fact, FEMA estimates that close to 64% of calls are emergency response or medical in nature.

For many departments, this makes extrication gear a necessity. The turnout gear purchased for structural firefighting is often bulky and very expensive, so taking turnout gear to an EMS call can cause the gear to wear faster.

Extrication gear is used when responding to incidents such as vehicular accidents or medical calls – usually situations where blood and other viral agents could be present.


Dual-Certified Gear

When full turnout gear is not required, dual certified gear meets the needs of emergency response calls. Dual certified gear is designed to meet NFPA 1977 and NFPA 1951 – Wildland/Urban Search and Rescue (Utility).

Storage pockets are a must when handling the tools needed for on-site calls. With a unique combination of expansion pockets and pleated design, the dual certified gear prepares the first responder with enhanced features for mobility and flexibility.


Looking for CE Certified Fire Gear?

Eagle Technical Products – a Lakeland Company offers a full range of fire protective clothing for fire services that require CE certification. Browse suits, gloves, helmets, boots, and more.

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