From Europe to North America, fire service industries globally are seeing some exciting developments in station wear trends that bode well for the future comfort and protection of end users. As manufacturers look to meet the demands for more accessible, protective, and affordable flame-resistant garment solutions, we’re breaking down the areas seeing advancement that fire departments everywhere should watch in the coming months and years.
Comfort and Protection
As in the rest of the FR garment industry, comfort is an increasingly high priority: you’re only as safe as you are comfortable. Particularly for firefighters facing high-risk situations, it is critical that they wear every protective garment the way that it is meant to be worn; if each garment is completely comfortable to wear correctly and move freely in, the wearer receives the full benefit of their gear while performing their duties. Greater comfort in station wear looks like fabrics that are more lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking to mitigate heat stress while offering the highest levels of protection.
In Europe, ISO 21942 specifies two levels of requirements for next-to-skin station wear. Level 1 determines a minimum of no melt, no drip requirements that provide no additional FR protection but ensures that the melting of a station wear uniform does not harm the firefighter. Level 2, however, does specify minimum heat and flame requirements for increased comfort and protection. This allows firehouses to choose between several options, such as 100% cotton, treated cotton, inherent FR or FR-treated solutions. TenCate Protective Fabrics manufactures all these types of fabrics in both the European and U.S. markets for application in station wear, offering advanced protection alongside the latest developments in comfort, sustainability and durability.
Sustainability is a hot topic across industries around the world, and the fire service industry is no exception. However, there are differences in the levels to which various global markets are actively seeking out more sustainable solutions. Fire departments in Europe are explicitly looking for more eco-friendly options, whereas this trend is in the early stages in the U.S. market. No matter where you are in the world, it is unlikely that sustainability will decrease in importance in the coming years in any industry, so we expect to see all markets place a greater emphasis on sustainable FR garment options in the future.
Station wear is typically worn around fire stations as a uniform when firefighters are out of their turnout gear, so it needs to be professional in appearance: crisp, clean, and easy to maintain. Fire stations are looking for garments to be extremely durable and hold up to frequent laundering without wearing out, losing shape, or fading in colour. Especially as departments face budget cuts, they want station wear solutions that are less expensive and longer lasting. By investing in garments with excellent lifespans and low-cost maintenance, they can get more bang for their buck and reduce replacement costs.
Trendsetting station wear
As the fire service industry continues to innovate toward more comfortable, sustainable, and durable solutions, fire departments will have greater access to increasingly advanced station wear that meets all these growing demands and more. Keep an eye out for what’s to come in station wear that goes far beyond meeting minimum requirements. New solutions are on the horizon that will take your station wear program to the next level; reach out to a TenCate Protective Fabrics professional to discuss how we can help your fire station get there.