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  1. #1
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    Default Bunker Gear Heat Exposure

    We recently had a structure fire where I and another FF were protecting an adjacent structure. The structure burning was a wood barn that was fully engulfed. We were warm, but by no means uncomfortably hot. After the incident we noticed our bunker gear had turned from black to brown on the areas facing the fire. I was very surprised to see this with what I felt was moderate heat conditions. A third FF was standing 2ft away from me and showed no signs of damage (same gear). I'm curious if any others have run into this?

    FYI: We decided to red tag the gear and order new sets.

    I apologize if this has been covered before and will welcome help in the search as I found no such thread.
    Be safe!


  2. #2
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    This happens sometimes with black gear. After being exposed to high heat, patches or even the whole thing will turn brown or even pinkish.

    This is due to the dye in the fabric vaporizing off of it. It doesn't damage the gear, but you should check the affected areas and make sure the fabric is still soft and feels like the rest of the gear. If it is crispy then it is damaged and should be repaired or replaced. Just the loss of color does not indicate damage though.

    The natural color of nomex is the brown/tan that you see in most fire gear. They use it so the gear doesn't need to be dyed and discolorations don't happen.

  3. #3
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KB1OEV View Post
    This happens sometimes with black gear. After being exposed to high heat, patches or even the whole thing will turn brown or even pinkish.

    This is due to the dye in the fabric vaporizing off of it. It doesn't damage the gear, but you should check the affected areas and make sure the fabric is still soft and feels like the rest of the gear. If it is crispy then it is damaged and should be repaired or replaced. Just the loss of color does not indicate damage though.

    The natural color of nomex is the brown/tan that you see in most fire gear. They use it so the gear doesn't need to be dyed and discolorations don't happen.

    The natural color of nomex is white or off white.


    Fabric is dyed for what ever the customers wants.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  4. #4
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    As stated before check the fabric for pliability and texture as compared to a un discolored area of your gear, also donít forget to check the moisture barrier and shell liner for any signs of damage, this is often missed.
    Totally Unacceptable !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5
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    Thank you for your info!
    Be safe!

  6. #6
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    try to push your thumbs through the suspected areas of the outer shell, and make sure the inside of the moisture barrier isnt damaged.

    If the material is strong it doesnt need to be replaced.

  7. #7
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    The natural color of the fabric depends on the type of fabric. Nomex, Advance, PBI all are slightly different colors, but none that I know of are naturally black. (haven't figured out why a dept would want black yet, but to each his own). As stated above, check the thermal liner and moisture barrier.
    But glad to see the dept is smart enough to take the PPE out of service if they were not sure.

  8. #8
    Forum Member BKDRAFT's Avatar
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    The discoloration is normal when exposed to high temperature and is referred to as sublimation if I remember correctly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeathValleyCap View Post
    The natural color of the fabric depends on the type of fabric. Nomex, Advance, PBI all are slightly different colors, but none that I know of are naturally black. (haven't figured out why a dept would want black yet, but to each his own). As stated above, check the thermal liner and moisture barrier.
    But glad to see the dept is smart enough to take the PPE out of service if they were not sure.
    You need black gear so you can look like FDNY.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    The natural color of nomex is white or off white.


    Fabric is dyed for what ever the customers wants.
    You could very well be correct. I was just repeating what my FFI/II instructors told us about the colorings. I think the real point was that the tan gear is not heavily colored if at all, so it generally won't be subject to the discoloration mentioned by the original poster.

    BKDRAFT is right about it being called sublimation. I couldn't remember the correct term when I first posted.

  11. #11
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    Thank you all for your responses!
    Be safe!

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