Fire and falling debris create enough danger for fire fighters on the job, but poor visibility both on the street and in smoke-filled areas creates more trouble. The gear each fire fighter wears must comply with ANSI 107 safety standards to minimize danger for the wearer.
The best Fire clothing is, first and foremost, designed with fabrics to protect from extreme heat, embers and flames. The pieces are also waterproof or water resistant, so the people can work with hoses and hydrants without getting soaked. Additional safety on all fire fighting clothes comes from the visibility factor. You have to be able to see your partners in a fire situation to work together effectively.
A great Class 3 suit with full ANSI compliance requires certain materials. The suit consists of a complete pants and jacket outfit usually worn by men and women battling a fire. They are also called turn out gear. While different fire companies use suits of different base colors: tan, fluorescent yellow and even blue, the reflective tape has to comply with ANSI standards.
All reflective tape must be a minimum of two inches wide on Class 3 specific gear. On the jacket, a band must encircle the chest and another near the waist or hem of the jacket. This provides visibility for the human form from all sides. Additional strips must go around each upper arm and each wrist area. Two inches of base cloth should be visible at the cuff and between each reflective stripe. Pants require the same width of reflective tape in two separated bands near the bottom of the legs. Most often, these reflective strips are fluorescent yellow or yellow-green.
The safety guidelines for fire gear and clothing are not all about visibility, however. Quality of fabric, fabric thickness, durability and how the color and quality hold up during use are taken into account. Each type of fabric available to be used in firefighting clothing undergoes rigorous testing. They are washed repeatedly, exposed to UV light and even tested for reactions with excessive perspiration.
With all the inherent dangers of fighting fires, the fire suits and turn out gear worn by fire men and women should always meet safety guidelines. Comfort, easy of movement, durability and visibility are all taken into account when a manufacturer constructs a quality firefighter outfit.