An immense amount of time and energy goes into making turnout gear as functional and protective as possible. While those in the fire service couldn’t do their jobs without these important garments, what is worn underneath should be given just as much attention.
Depending on the department, fire crews can be seen around the station wearing anything from a T-shirt and jeans to the most polished stationwear on the market – and everything in between.
In recent years, there’s been a growing trend specifically toward wearing flame-resistant (FR) stationwear, as these garments are designed to be protective while keeping crews looking sharp. While these items may appear to be just like a traditional pair of pants and a shirt, there’s a lot more to FR stationwear than meets the eye.
SEEING BEYOND THE SURFACE
When safety is the ultimate priority, the garments firefighters wear need to be thoughtfully selected. Calls can come in at a moment’s notice, leaving no time to change into garments that are designed to perform in dangerous environments.
No firefighter wants to think about getting injured on the fireground. This is why it’s important to ensure that every layer of fabric they wear is doing its job to keep them safe on the job.
“If a firefighter was given a choice between a poly-cotton T-shirt or an inherent FR garment, they are probably going to take the FR garment because they know the potential inherent risks of the job,” said Jeffrey Reed, a veteran firefighter and end use market manager at TenCate Protective Fabrics.
Unfortunately, the challenge of acquiring FR stationwear almost always boils down to a department’s budget, as some departments may not have any funds allocated toward the purchase of these types of garments. Other departments may have more wiggle room when considering the uniforms they purchase for their crews, but finding the extra funds may be an obstacle to overcome.
Reed says some departments propose FR stationwear purchases only to have their city administrators recommend saving money by purchasing other types of stationwear uniforms. In these instances, submitting testing data to show the performance advantages of FR stationwear might make a difference in getting FR garments approved.
HOW THIS STATIONWEAR IS DIFFERENT
Similar to the inherent FR turnout gear fabrics manufactured by TenCate Protective Fabrics, the company’s Tecasafe Plus stationwear fabrics incorporate specific fibers and fiber blends that are also inherently flame-resistant.
“The fabrics we manufacture for North American emergency response professionals are made with inherent FR yarns,” said Reed. “We control the production process and the quality – from fiber to finished fabric.”
The yarns in TenCate Protective Fabrics’ Tecasafe Plus stationwear are inherently flame-resistant, meaning the flame-resistant properties are built into the very nature of the material. They also feature Coolderm technology which helps keep firefighters comfortable by wicking moisture created by sweat away from the skin – all while providing added flash-fire protection.
Not only can firefighters feel confident that Tecasafe Plus stationwear will provide them with additional fire protection, but they’ll also know they’ll look great too – thanks to TenCate Protective Fabrics’ Truecolor technology.
“Fabrics made with Truecolor technology resist fading from wear and wash, so when the fire chief or battalion chief shows up at the station and everybody’s supposed to be in the same uniform, you don’t have one guy whose pants are really blue and one guy whose pants are kind of faded,” said Reed.
This aesthetic consistency from uniform to uniform provides crews with a professional look that works to promote a positive image within their community. Stationwear made with TenCate Protective Fabrics’ Truecolor technology makes that professional look possible.
GETTING STARTED WITH FR STATIONWEAR
Selecting the right FR stationwear for your department might feel like an overwhelming task, particularly for budget-minded departments. It’s important to remember, however, that like turnout gear, FR stationwear is an investment in highly protective, long-lasting garments.
“Garments made with our FR stationwear fabric will retain that rich, dark shade longer,” said Reed. “It’s going to look better for a longer period of time. That quality is inherent, down to the fiber level.”
Fire departments who are new to FR stationwear, or simply aren’t sure where to start, can visit Stationwear.com, a resource developed by TenCate Protective Fabrics to help identify the ideal protective requirements and comfort preferences of your department.
“This website helps departments make decisions that lead them toward better products,” said Reed.
The safety of firefighters is on the line during every call. Sometimes, wearing the right combination of PPE can make all the difference.
“Turnout gear is a multilayer garment – and every component has resistance to heat and flame,” said Reed. “Every layer matters. Tecasafe Plus stationwear adds an extra line of protection from the skin out.”
Visit TenCate Protective Fabrics for more information.
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