Santa Clara County Fire Department

Protective Clothing

Wildland Gear

FF/E Dee Raub models wildland gear. Wildland gear is designed to protect, but another important function it has is to keep the firefighter cool, by allowing body heat to escape, so it isn't insulated the way structural turnouts are. Wildland firefighting (woods, brush and grass fires, etc.) requires a lot of exercise and activity: digging, chopping, shoveling and lugging hoses. In fire conditions, under a hot sun, this kind of work gets very hot very quickly, and often lasts longer than a typical structure fire. For added protection, firefighters wear long pants under the wildland pants. Because the issued wildland coat sleeves are double layered, a long sleeve shirt is recommended but not required.

Wildland gear may not always look as clean as structural turnouts, partly because they don't shed dirt as easily. However, in most cases the contaminants in wildland smoke is nowhere near as toxic as the smoke from a structural fire, so cleaning isn't as critical.

wildland clothing Helmet (actually a hardhat), with shroud and chinstrap, and firefighter's name on back. In the top photo, the protective shroud is not velcro'd closed over the face. The department also issues an LED headlamp that is positioned between the goggles and the helmet visor.
Radio, in radio pocket, with clip-on microphone.
Fire retardant cotton jacket, with retroflective stripes at waist and wrists. The department and firefighter's name are on back. The jacket also has high collar flaps, which velcro closed over the neck to the chin.
Equipment web belt.
Gloves. Wildland gloves are made of a single layer of material, so they are lighter than the double-layered structural firefighting gloves.
wildland clothing   (Note that when goggles are down and the shroud is secured, no skin is exposed).
Emergency shelter in pouch.
Overpants with oversize pockets.
Leather firefighting boots. These should not be steel toed, because the metal heats up.
10  Accessory pack.
11  Hose clamp. Used to squeeze a hose closed so that another length can be added at the end.
wildland clothing 12  Disposable water bottles.

The bright yellow wildland gear consists of fire retardant cotton or Nomex (department issue is cotton) overpants and jacket, leather boots, a lightweight hard-hat type helmet with a protective shroud, goggles, gloves, and an equipment belt. When in close proximity to a fire, the helmet's shroud is secured around the firefighter's face and head, covering everything except the eyes, which are protected by goggles. This protects the firefighter from burning embers, hot ashes, radiant heat, and, to some extent, smoke. When a firefighter is fully dressed, there should be no exposed skin. Many firefighters will also wear bandanas, as both an alternative to the shroud and as a sweatband.

The wildland belt consists of a web belt and padded suspenders. It holds two important items: a canteen (or bottled water), and an emergency shelter. Dehydration is a real danger when fighting wildland fires, so the firefighter must remember to drink liquids constantly. Canteens are used less now, replaced by half-liter plastic water bottles. Bottled water is more sanitary, tastes better, and is easier to resupply. The emergency shelter is a aluminum-coated mylar sheet with which firefighters can crawl into and cover themselves, if they are overtaken by a fast moving fire. This emergency shelter ("Shake 'n' Bake bag") will hopefully provide enough protection from radiant heat to allow the fire to pass over the firefighters without killing them. Considered as last-resort protection, if shelters have to be deployed it means that things have gone very, very wrong. Although used extremely rarely, it nevertheless has to be carried where it can be accessed immediately at all times.

Many firefighters will also carry a knife and an accessory pack on their belt, containing the same kinds of items that a hiker or camper might carry, such as energy bars, insect repellent, poison oak block, sunblock, toilet paper, a compass and a whistle. A flashlight is also often carried, in case operations extend beyond sunset; the department now issues small hands-free helmet-mounted lights.

The boots are wildland firefighting boots, which do not have steel toes or shank. When standing near or in hot coals, the steel can pick up and retain the heat.

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