For a firefighter safety trumps every other consideration, especially when it comes to firefighting gear. This includes firefighter boots.Like other components of a firefighter’s gear, the boots most not only provide comfort, it must ensure safety for the wearer. As a result these boots are only made by specialised manufacturers.
A firefighter spends a considerable amount of his time on his feet, running and climbing across the station and on site. Often the ground is a precarious place, full of dangerous debris and combustible elements. They, quite literally, are often required to walk through fire. Hence, a firefighter’s duty boots must be specialised.
Some of the essential features of fire boot are:
Design: According to prescribed standards in the US, boots must carry some heel at the sole, an insole that is puncture-resistant and an impact-resistant toe cap. It should have ankle support and be comfortable to wear.
Ability to withstand high temperature: Fire boots must obviously be impervious to high temperature, since they are exposed to really extreme conditions. This is why fire boots are made of composite material that does not conduct heat. Many boots have special lining to boost this resistance. Lining materials include Nomex and Kevlar, which are resistant to heat.
Resistant to electrical hazards: Fire is not the only hazard when a fire breaks out. The other dangerous hazard for fire fighters is possible electrocution. With open wires and circuits, this is a very real risk. The presence of water hoses and jets only make this worse. Duty boots must, therefore, be resistant to electricity. The sole is usually made of rubber, leather or neoprene – each resistant to electricity.
Skid resistant: Fire stations and fire site can also become surprisingly slippery. The presence of water and sometimes oil and grease can make for a very slippery surface. Additionally, firefighters walk through carried terrains, which can often turn to be slippery. Obviously, slipping is the last thing one would want on this job. Not only can the heavy firefighter gear make this rather uncomfortable, it can prove dangerous. Rubber or leather soles ensure that the boots are skid-free.
Sturdiness: Like the firefighter’s job, his boots are also subjected to all kind of external hazards. This includes walking on unpredictable terrain, falling objects and making their way through crumbling buildings. Hence, their boots must be strong and sturdy enough to give them stability in unpredictable terrain, while protecting their feet from any accidental injury. This is why firefighter duty boots are made of strong and durable material that provide them with security in extreme conditions.
Durability: Firefighter boots are fairly expensive. So, it would be wise to ensure that this investment lasts a long time!
Comfort: A firefighter spends most of his time on his feet. A lot of this time is spent in very difficult, dangerous and demanding conditions. This makes the need for comfort important to most firefighters. Once all safety features are satisfied, this is usually their biggest requirement.
Easy to wear and take-off: A firefighter needs to get ready fast. When called in an emergency, firefighters are required to don their gear as fast as possible. Here, a firefighter’s preference is also important. Easy wear options include zip and button closures.
Other things to know about firefighter duty boots:
Rubber Vs leather: There is often a topic of dispute. Both are widely used in making the boots, but which works better? Rubber has the advantage of cost. It is sometimes half the cost! But leather could well be worth the extra cost. Although more expensive, leather shoes were found to be lighter and hence, less likely to cause the wearer to trip. As mentioned above, this is a critical advantage. Lighter shoes also mean that the firefighter can do his work more comfortably, using less energy. In addition, leather shoes are easier to clean up, especially chemicals.
Maintenance: A firefighter’s boots must be diligently maintained and cleaned regularly. Any deterioration must be immediately addressed. If there is any possibility of safety compromise it must be replaced immediately.
A firefighter’s duty boots is one of the most important parts of his gear. It helps him to navigate in what is a very dangerous workspace. Hence, it must confirm to given safety standards and be comfortable.