A checklist for specifying gear

Here are some helpful tips to use when specifying turnout gear:

1.  Make sure the specification meets or exceeds the most current edition of NFPA 1971.

2.  Educate yourself on the different properties and performance of materials before specifying outer shells, moisture barriers, and thermal liners.

3.  Specify gear that will protect you from not only the heat of the fire, but also from water absorption, which can add weight and can contribute to scald burns.

4.  If purchasing coats or pants separately, make sure they’re compatible and meet the NFPA 1500 Overlap Requirement.

5.  Understand where the majority of burns occur and make sure your specification will raise the thermal performance in those areas – especially knees and shoulders.

6.  Make sure the garments are properly fitted and your specification spells out requirements that will ensure every fire fighter is properly measured and sized.

7.  Talk to other fire departments about their gear and its performance. For best results, choose departments that are similar in size to yours and have similar year- round weather.

8.  Set the level of performance that you want. Always use a positive specification of what you want, not a specification stating what you don’t want.

9.  Visit the manufacturer’s facilities.

10.  Require a bid sample to ensure the bid delivered is what you requested.

11.  When specifying options such as pockets, mic tabs, etc., make sure they won’t interfere with the performance of other components.