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A comprehensive guide on different types of firefighter gloves


If you are looking for the best pair of firefighting gloves, understanding the different types of gloves and their distinct capabilities is necessary to getting the right pair for you. Protecting your hands is a crucial part of every type of first responder and firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE), no matter which field you work in– structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, rescue or extrication. All gloves are designed differently to help you perform your best.

Structural-Firefighting-Gloves-TPR-G-thermoplastic-rubber-multi-layer-knuckle-guardStructural firefighting gloves are designed to protect the firefighter from the thermal stresses associated with interior structural firefighting situations. They are made from tough materials and advanced technologies to be able to withstand coming in contact with dangerous structural fire encounters such as flashovers, backdrafts, thermal energy transfers, high heat areas, hot steam/liquid and chemicals. Burns and other injuries to the hand represent a significant proportion of all fireground injuries. Structural firefighting gloves must meet a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certification standard. When they pass the certification, it means that the glove adheres to the standards that were set by the NFPA. Depending on the brand manufacturer, they can be made from a variety of different materials with the purpose of providing various degrees of thermal and chemical protection, as well as being resistant to sharp objects. They should have cut resistant palm, side panels, thumb and finger panels to protect against punctures, cuts and abrasions.

When Pro-Tech 8 first started to think about creating a better structural firefighting glove, we took into account complaints about firefighter gloves being too bulky and restrictive of hand movements, such as using the call button on radios or performing other basic fire ground tasks. Pro-Tech 8 structural firefighting gloves are designed with heat-resistant and flame-retardant materials. Our structural firefighting gloves balance grip performance and thermal protection when responding to dangerous fire ground situations. In a fire, you cannot sacrifice hand maneuverability and dexterity with thermal flame protection. If you cannot use your hands properly you will have to remove your gloves and that can lead to injury. 

Leather is one of the most common materials used when constructing a pair of firefighting gloves. In our structural firefighting gloves, we use kangaroo and goatskin outer layers because they maximize breathability, are stronger, and are less absorbent to water than elk, cowhide and pigskin. What is great about kangaroo and goatskin when used in firefighting gloves is that they are capable of withstanding moisture without the risk of the glove becoming stiff; it will actually get softer after every use. You can also expect goatskin leather to be restored to its natural soft texture once you wash or launder it. 

Kangaroo leather offers an incredible benefit at 4 times the tensile strength of pig-hide and cow-hide leather. This leather is also popular for its extreme flexibility while providing maximum cut resistance. Any leather used in our firefighting gloves undergoes special processing during the tanning process to improve its flame-resistant nature. Additionally, all Pro-Tech 8 structural firefighting gloves include advanced textiles, like Kevlar® and Nomex®, integrated at the back of the hand and in the knuckle guard to add cut and flame resistance. 

Our gloves are available with two different inner liners. The first is a fully knitted 100% modacrylic bacteria free inner liner for easy don and doff. The second is a 100% Nomex® knit inner liner that is treated to be bacteria-free. All Pro-Tech 8 structural firefighting gloves also feature an additional full lining of Kevlar® that provides added cut resistance.

The Porelle® PTFE (Teflon) inner moisture barrier is a new addition to our structural firefighting gloves for 2018. It has been tested for chemical and viral protection and breathability with the highest rate of water vapor transmission than any other structural glove barrier, so your hands remain dry from both the waterproof qualities and the elimination of sweat due to breathability. This liner is included in each Pro-Tech 8 structural firefighting glove model and is double Certified for NFPA 1971 – 2018 both inside and outside the glove as well as European certified to EN-659.  

It is important to determine the proper size structural firefighting glove for your hands. Getting your fire glove sizing correct can help ensure that you will benefit from the protection of the gloves without hampering the functionality and performance of your hands. The sizing guidelines have been changed by the new NFPA standard for structural firefighting gloves and proximity firefighting gloves. Instead of alpha sizing, i.e. small (S), medium (M), large (L), it is now done in Brannock-style measuring: using numerical sizing (64-82) as well as including two widths narrow (N), and wide (W).  We recommend that you measure the size of your hand on your own to determine which size is truly appropriate for you. You can do that by measuring the length of your hand and the circumference of your wrist. We have a glove sizing chart PDF that explains it in detail. With this latest edition, Pro-Tech 8 will dual label our gloves to both the alpha and numeric sizing to allow for a smooth transition.

At Pro-Tech 8, we have designed and manufactured different gloves for different uses: Wildland firefighting, extrication/USAR, and rope handling. Read on for more details on each type of glove.

Wildland-firefighting-glovesWildland firefighting gloves are used by firefighters who are called to fight wildland fires, often in non-urban areas. The gloves are designed in a way that can protect you from extreme heat, since wildland firefighting conditions are very different than structural firefighting conditions. The protective qualities of structural firefighting PPE make their use less desirable during wildland firefighting operations. 

Wildland firefighters recognize the value of having the proper protective clothing and gear to prevent injury and illness, particularly from heat stress, which comes from a high level of physical exertion during hot and dry or hot and humid conditions while engaging in fire suppression operations. Wildland firefighter gloves need to be designed to meet the hazards of extreme heat, vapor, sharp objects, and all other dangers encountered during firefighting missions out on the line. Wildland gloves must also pass certification under specific NFPA guidelines. This certification is classified as NFPA Standard 1977-2016: Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Firefighting, and was developed to address the particular PPE needs of wildland firefighting and firefighting in the wildland-urban interface. The gloves should be specially designed to protect the firefighters’ hands against blisters, cuts, scratches and minor burns during routine firefighting. In our Wildland firefighting glove, we use a full-grained cowhide suede leather.

Pro-Tech Wildland gloves are designed and constructed for delivering enhanced dexterity, grip, heat resistance, comfort and hand protection during Wildland firefighting activities. The cuffs are designed for blocking fire debris. We take pride in our gloves’ extreme abrasion, puncture and cut-resistant qualities. Furthermore, it provides amazing dexterity when using firefighting tools. The gloves need to allow the firefighter to accomplish many physical tasks and require superior grip abilities under both dry and wet conditions. 

BOSS-X-Litex-extrication-USAR-cleaning-glovesExtrication or USAR rescue gloves 

Another glove used by many firefighters and first responders is extrication / USAR gloves. They are used during motor vehicle accidents with extrication (MVA). These MVAs involve all types of vehicle accidents and people that have to be extricated from these MVA scenarios. These types of gloves require grip and dexterity in order to operate specialized extrication and rescue equipment–even when wet. The tools used include hydraulic spreading and cutting tools, wire cutting tools, glass cutting saws to remove the glass, and many other tools to help extricate a person. Due to the severity of some of these MVAs, firefighters and first responders need to be protected from punctures, abrasion, and cuts. These types of gloves should have liquid protection from materials commonly encountered on emergency scenes, such as gasoline, battery acid, diesel fuel or hydraulic fluid and bodily fluids. Emergency rescue missions can also happen in collapsed or burning buildings and require USAR gloves (urban search and rescue).

We have several styles of these gloves that can be used for digging through building materials, concrete, rebar, sheet metal and using heavy machinery. We also use synthetic fibers like Kevlar® on the outer layers, which offers 10 times the cut protection of leather and a better strength-to-weight ratio.

Rope rappelling gloves – these gloves are used in rescue situations involving rope or repelling and should only be used for handling rope. 

Besides the differences between the 4 main types of fire service operations gloves mentioned, it is also important to think about categorizing firefighting gloves based on the certain materials that are used to develop and construct them. 

Conclusion 

When you find yourself in need of a high-quality pair of the best firefighter gloves, research and gathering all relevant information is a must. Fortunately, there is not a shortage of choices when it comes to gloves designed for firefighters and rescuers. With such a wide selection, we make finding the right type of firefighter glove that is compatible with your specific requirements, simple. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us, we are here to help. You may also use our distributor locator page to find a dealer near you.

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