Firefighters wear a variety of uniforms designed for different aspects of their work. When engaged in fighting fires, the uniforms they wear are designed with safety, practicality and communication in mind. The Fire Service does a lot of work outside of large scale firefighting too and also provides uniforms with that in mind. As a result, firefighters are issued with comfortable, practical clothing that can be worn around a fire station and on non-fire fighting operations. In addition, all firefighters are issued with smart, formal dress to wear on official occasions.
Uniforms worn to fight large fires are designed to protect firefighters from the heat and smoke around them while remaining practical and helping to identify the wearer. Firefighters wear a strong Kevlar helmet to protect their heads from falling debris. These helmets are often colour coordinated to signal the rank of the wearer and aid communication. On the front of the helmet a plastic visor protects the eyes from sparks. The thick jacket and trousers worn to combat fire are often made from a flame retardant fibre such as Nomex. This man-made material is light and flexible and designed to repel heat. Thick, fireproof gloves and steel toecap boots are also worn to protect the hands and feet and breathing apparatus complete with a rubber face mask that allows firefighters to breathe safely in thick smoke.
Firefighters are also issued with a variety of clothing designed to be worn on operations where fire is not an immediate threat. This includes non-emergency station wear such as T-shirts, casual trousers and sportswear, lightweight but tough overalls and lighter protective boots. Gender specific uniforms may also be issued to ensure that female firefighters get clothing that fits properly and individuals from minority faiths can request official modifications. These items are comfortable and versatile while still identifying the wearer as a firefighter.
Like all emergency services, the Fire Service takes part in a number of official engagements and activities where smart, formal dress is required. As a result, fire fighters are issued with another rank specific uniform. This uniform is military in style and features a peaked cap, formal blazer, shirt, tie, trousers and boots. Firefighters may display medals and other awards on this uniform with their rank also displayed on the shoulder or sleeve.
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