Thread: Women's Gear

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    LittleFireChick's Avatar
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    Default Women's Gear

    http://www.i-women.org/issues.php?issue=12

    I found this article while trying to do some research on the issue. I am 4'11" on a good day. How many of you folks are out there trying to find gear that fits women properly? Do any of you think there is a market for women's gear? I realize there are not as many women in firefighting, so custom gear gets expensive.

    What do your departments do to get the right gear for your female firefighters?

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    My ex-wife was also 4'11" and we were faced with this same situation when we were awarded new turnouts on an AFG grant. As you said, since finding women's gear wasn't really an option, the vendor worked to get her gear that would fit her as well as possible. Despite their best efforts, she always found the gear to be baggy on her (she had a somewhat petite frame), so the use of suspenders and postman's loops was mandatory!
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    LOL! The gear is definitely baggy on me. I look like someone's kid. I get some funny looks at wrecks. My suspenders are even too big. But the thing that concerns me the most is the lack of mobility. It sucks, big time. I can barely move with an air pack on and if I have to look up for some reason, I am screwed. Maybe I should start going to these conferences and get talking to gear manufacturer's and see if we can't get something done about it.

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    I would think this to be a major safety concern. Not trying to stir the pot, but your department should make the special concessions to buy you custom made gear if the standard issue does not fit.

    Are you career or volunteer? Not that it matters, but I would imagine that there would be some legal basis for providing you the correct equipment from an employer.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
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    We have used Quest gear for years and they (the sales rep) measure every set. It cost little more than off the rack. I would guess most any of them will do the same.
    ?

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    I am a volunteer. I am thinking about going to a full time department after I retire from the military in the Spring. My department can barely afford new gear. I am lucky I finally got a pager that works.

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    It took 7 years before "the boys" conceded that I was on the dept (vfd) to stay and ordered me gear that fit as well as possible.
    At 5'5" and 115 lbs there wasn't gear that would fit me really well off the rack but they tried as best as they could within their price point.

    The end result is that all of a sudden I was performing way better on the drills and the fire ground. By far. They went so far as to comment on it.

    Well yes. If I don't have to try and find a way to hold my pants up while I am climbing up/down ladders, and my boots fit so that I can feel the rungs underneath my feet....
    When I am not finding ashes in my "innermost layer" ...
    They honestly thought I was a clutz before. Not at all. My gear was the issue.
    I can actually sit back against the seat because I don't have knots in my suspenders to try and hold them and my pants up.

    Pure joy. When I got my new gear I thought I'd died and gone to the great station in the sky. To this day, I still appreciate my gear.

    The only thing that has not been resolved is the ability to just tilt my head back to look up. I still have to tilt to one side before I tilt my head back to look up.

    But that's ok. Things got SO much better with gear that fits.

    I think there IS a small niche market for different sizing but it isn't going to make companies a ton of money so I think custom gear is going to be the answer for a long time to come.

    BTW; there ARE a few men out there on the smaller side. When the smaller guy on our dept. retired, I was given his but still...too big. Not all FF's are huge, regardless of gender so to me, this isn't a gender issue, but simply balancing the budget with the needs of any given crew.

    Employers ARE legally required to ensure that you have the training and equipment to do the job safely but ... until something tragic happens, usually there are apologies and no more money for the folks that need custom gear. After all OS and H seldom come checking up on stations. It usually takes "something" to get them there.

    We are expected to "make do" because we can get into the gear whereas the "big boys" can't get into the gear and therefore it is crystal clear that gear must be ordered to fit them. I had to wait a few years until the "big boys" were outfitted simply because I could get into the gear. The fact that it didn't protect me was just not as critical.

    Had my back and rear end been burned from the embers and ashes I found in the innermost layers (trying to put this politely), I suspect it would have been dealt with sooner as it would have proven the inability of the gear to correctly protect me. As it was, the news was received with a helpless shrug and the reassurance that I WAS on the list for better fitting gear.

    Which is kind of ironic because some of those "big boys" have moved on and now we have other folks floating around in gear that doesn't fit them properly.

    Very hard to balance budgets and gear with an ever changing staff.

    I don't know that there is a good answer, short of having height and weight parameters to be on a dept. and even that wouldn't necessarily solve the problem.

    I'm just very greatful that I am past that stage now.
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