RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – We count on firefighters to protect us.
In order to do that – they need their gear to protect them.
“Without the confidence in your gear you are nothing as a firefighter,” said Master Firefighter Chris Christian with the Cary Fire Department.
That’s why gear must meet strict safety standards.
It’s tested at Underwriters Laboratories right here in the Triangle.
In one test, a boot is placed directly into a flame.
After 12 seconds in the fire, the boot must not continue to flame for more than 5 seconds.
John Drengenberg with UL explained the test which is relatively new.
“If any of the threads or the laces of the boot catch on fire and continue to burn that could be very bad for a firefighter who’s moving around a building and could spread the fire instead of putting it out.”
UL also tests helmets to make sure they can withstand an impact from a fall or something falling on a firefighter’s head.
Cary Fire Captain Yoko Sorensen said it’s not uncommon for firefighters to be struck with anything, “from sheetrock, to bricks. to timbers to anything you encounter at emergency scenes.”
Another test ensures the gear is waterproof.
Water used to fight fires can get hot enough to burn and be filled with contaminants.
“If it can get into our gear, it gets onto our skin and many of the substances can be absorbed through the skin which obviously is not a good thing for our bodies,” said Christian.
“We also are looking at paramedics getting sick because they are exposed to body fluids when they are taking care of patients,” added Drengenberg.
UL tests nearly everything a firefighter wears – from hoods to gloves, and firefighters say seeing that UL mark meaning their gear meets safety standards gives them the confidence to put their own lives on the line to save others.
“My life is in UL’s hands,” said Christian.