How to select new PPE: The basics

Proper and thorough risk assessments are critical when in comes to choosing personal protective equipment for your fire department

By Mike McKenna, FR1 Columnist

When I’m asked what the best structural turnouts are, my response is usually the same: “It depends.” The conversation turns to what the fire department needs and wants the protective garments to do. It comes down to what the department’s expectations are.

This is a very broad topic for discussion and over the next couple of columns I will offer some ideas on conducting a proper risk assessment.

PPE selection committee members, when asked what kind of turnouts they wear, often simply respond with the brand name of the outer shell fabric. And when prodded about the selection process and what the fire department expects the turnouts to do, the answers can be very puzzling.

In addition, many firefighters do not understand the limitations of their structural garments. They often believe that they cannot be burned in their PPE if it is not damaged, which is not the case.

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