By Robert Avsec
Wildfire season in 2018 was catastrophic for many parts of the western U.S., particularly California. And 2019 isn’t shaping up to be much better, given the effects of climate change on weather patterns, especially rainfall.
The time to prepare for your fire department's wildland firefighting equipment and personal protective clothing needs for 2019 is now. Last year’s heavy wildfire activity had fire departments and vendors alike scrambling to get the wildland firefighting equipment and protective clothing they needed. That demand was exacerbated by the extraordinary number of requests for additional firefighters from across the U.S. to respond to those fires in California and other western states.
IT'S NOT JUST THE WESTERN U.S.
Structural firefighting departments across the U.S. are increasingly responding to fires in the wildland urban interface (WUI) as population migration and residential construction continue to expand into the WUI. Many of those departments lack the specific wildland firefighting gear and protective equipment necessary for safe effective and efficient operations.
Right at the top of that list is personal protective clothing. Hiking through the woods for hundreds of yards to reach the seat of an early-stage wildfire, while wearing structural firefighting turnout gear, can be exhausting even in relatively cool weather, making heat stress a common risk. Those personnel need to have PPE options beyond their structural PPE.
Essential gear for fighting wildland fires includes:
- Wildland firefighting helmets with protective eyewear or goggles. These helmets are more lightweight and less cumbersome than the helmet worn for structural firefighting.
- Fire resistant clothingincluding very durable, tear-resistant brush shirts and brush pants to protect against slashes and cuts from brush, as well as base layers and coveralls that provide comfort and toughness along with features like moisture wicking and wind resistance.
True North supplies a full line of wildland firefighting clothing, including the Slayer Brush Shirt and Slayer Brush Pant with 40% more airflow to help you beat the heat. True North’s full range of clothing is designed to offer multiple layer options allowing you to adapt to your surroundings.
All Slayer wildland firefighting clothing is compliant with NFPA 1977: Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting.
- Wildland firefighting bootsdesigned for extended walking with good foot and ankle support. Structural firefighting boots—even the leather ones—are not made for hiking through the woods for extended periods of time and can lead to blisters.
- Wildland packs and chest harnesses for carrying your fire shelter, radio and water, plus items like energy bars, insect repellent and sunscreen, because you never know how long you’re going to be out there. The True North Frontline Bushwhacker Pack and the True North Fireball Wildland Pack are two examples of backpacks designed by wildland firefighters for wildland firefighters.