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Fitting Facts

Posted by Feld Fire on 9/8/2014 to Fire Fighting

Firefighters come in a remarkable range of shapes and sizes, which isn't surprising, as firefighters span the entire adult population. The days of building turnout gear that fits a "normal" range of firefighters are over. When your gear really fits your body, it's not just more comfortable; but it enables you to perform your job to the maximum of your ability. In spite of manufacturers meeting all the rigorous safety standards and requirements for fire fighting protective wear, many firefighters are still getting gear that doesn't fit well.

Not Quite Perfection

NFPA 1971 provides for the minimum availability of sizes for chest, sleeve, waist and inseam, as well as requiring specific patterns for men and for women, but the standard doesn't provide for different body shapes. NFPA 1500 speaks to "fit," only in terms of the required overlap, however a gap can sometimes exist in the total thermal protection when both protective garments are worn.

Gender Sizing Differences

And when it comes to fit, women really are different than men; and just as there is no normal-size man, there just is no normal-size woman. For any given waist size, women generally have wider hips relative to men, but they can also be petite, misses, women's or plus-sized, tall, short or in-between. Although NFPA 1971 requires specific patterns for women, most women have a difficult time finding the right fit. As with male firefighters, the key to fit is gear that comes in different shapes, not just sizes.

Pants That Fit

Turnout pants aren't like a regular pair of pants, because they fit over your pants, so your turnout waist size likely will be two or more inches larger than that of your street pants. Your waist measurement also depends on the height of the pants up from the crotch, also called the front rise, and also where you like to wear your pants. If your turnout pants have an integrated belt, how and where you secure this belt affects where the pants ride on you.

In turnout pants, you need added length and fullness to do your job unrestricted. You need options to fit your body properly, just as you do when you choose a pair of jeans. Most firefighters will choose a relaxed fit for maximum mobility.

The Squat Test

If you squat down when you try on the pants, check to see if there Is excess fabric in the seat. If not, going trimmer will restrict your movement. If so, and you're trimmer in the waist, seat and thigh, you'll likely find a regular fit (that has added length, but less fullness) will be ample and less baggy.

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