1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Pewee Valley, KY USA
    Posts
    25

    Post Black -v- Tan Firefighting Gear

    We are getting ready to purchase new structure fire fighting gear. One of the issues that keeps coming up is what color to buy? We have tan and I say we stay TAN. We are one of the lucky ones and will be able to do this with FEMA money. (It took 3 years but we go it.) I have read that BLACK is better because black will show heat damage before tan will. I have read also that black will hold dirt and will not show when a chemical has effected it. So which is better? Comments in either direction would be great.

  2. #2
    Early Adopter
    cozmosis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    1,925

    Default

    Personally, I think that if you clean your gear regularly and take care of it... either color (or any number of other colors) will work just fine. I think color choice is more a matter of personal preference than anything. Afterall, if one color really was superior, everyone would use that color.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    145

    Default

    Personally I like tan gear more but like cozmosis says if you take care of it, it doesn't matter. Our gear is sent for cleaning monthly by professional cleaners and we also wash our own gear at the hall..Usually after any type of fire i at least try to scrub my gear down just to get rid of all the crap on it...

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Linden Arizona
    Posts
    5

    Default Black or Tan

    We had tan gear and switched over to black last year. I have always had tan prior to this change and prefer tan for several reasons. Tan gear shows the dirt and damage as well as the stains where as black does not. Black is much hotter standing outside in the heat of the sun. Black gear fades out to gray and does not look as good in gray as it did when it was black. As stated previously either color will do the job and provide good protection as long as you take care of it. I inspect my gear after every fire or accident call for damage. I wash my gear after every fire or incident that I came in contact with hydrocarbons or chemicals. Your gear is your life so take care of it as you would your own body. Basically you should consider it another layer of skin. Always refer to the manufacturer for care and maintenance instructions and follow them (it's kind of a CYA thing in case of the worst). I guess what I am really saying is it is personal preferance on what color. Care of your gear is far more important than color! Congratulations on your FEMA grant and use it well!

    B. Brooks
    Captain
    Linden FD

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    187

    Default No difference

    I have worn Black, Yellow, Tan and Even ARFF Baked Potato Silver. I have notice no difference in any of them. Other then the knees in the proximity gear wore out fast. I say go with the lightest gear you can find without sacrificing thermal protection.
    “Just when you think something is made to be Idiot Proof. They go a head and make a better Idiot”

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    firefighterbeau's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Central ND USA
    Posts
    451

    Default

    i think tan, gold, or kahki show up better than black, yellow is also really good for visibility. like others have said the lighter colors show dirt, soot, and spills better. i usually don't wash my gear right after each incident, but i do rinse it off with a hose. when i see it is starting to get real dirty or if it was a fire where i really dug into things then i wash it. make sure to follow the decon/washing instructions on the gear is a big part of taking care of the gear.

  7. #7
    Permanently Removed
    CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default This one is easy...

    We have talked this over several times. Here is some
    info-

    -Simple science- Black ABSORBS heat. This is why the
    tiles on the bottom of the space shuttle are black.
    That is their job. Las Vegas- The engines used to
    be white because of the desert heat. Their police
    car hoods and trunks are white so the suspects
    dont burn their hands "assuming the position" in
    the hot desert heat.

    In the summer, I only wear white shirts to reflect
    the heat. Winter, dark blue to absorb. My car is
    white, reflects the heat and the paint last longer.

    -Less visible- The stealth airplane is black for one
    reason...it does NOT want to be seen during flight. As
    a Fireighter on a roof on down in a structure- YOU
    DO WANT TO BE SEEN. Yes, I know, turnouts have
    reflective trim. Trim that can flake, rub and burn
    off. No thanks.

    Think safety and visibility vs. always tradition...
    Go tan!
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 02-21-2004 at 12:21 PM.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ullrichk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Deleted by the forum gremlins
    Posts
    1,663

    Default

    Even though tan reflects the heat of the sun better than black material, this apparently doesn't hold true at the near-infrared (and beyond) end of the spectrum. Granted we have other issues to deal with when it gets really hot, but I found that tidbit interesting - I think I read it in a gear manufacturer's literature. It might not be as applicable with today's more advanced fabrics.

    I've worn balck and tan and I have to say I prefer tan because it's generally more visible, and it shows dirt and grime so you know when it's time to wash. It is noticeably cooler in sunlight.

    I know from experience that black nomex turns reddish pink when it gets too hot or when it has been exposed to UV rays (sunlight, fluorescent lights) too long. Since both compromise the material, I would list that as an advantage. Again, I don't know if materials other than nomex exhibit these characteristics.

    Whichever way you go, buy the best protection you can afford.
    ullrichk
    a.k.a.
    perfesser

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    CaptOldTimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,242

    Red face

    Guys, I have seen every color that gear could be made in. We wore all black turnouts when I came on board and they were fine. Yes, after a few years and washing they did loose some of the darknest of black and got lighter. This indicated that you had been on the job for a while. WOW! Not a rookie any more.

    We looked at the tans, reds, blacks and yellows. We are using yellow for several reasons. One- It can been seen better that the darker colors. Two- It shows damage better than the others.
    Chiefs Officer are in white gear. Better targets, HA!!!

    I really don't care what color the gear is as long as the department procures quility gear that meets all the stands and spec's. We do use Nomex, instead of PBI. We feel that Nomex will hold up longer that PBI, based on seeing other departments using PBI and had problems with them.

    We do issue every member two sets of gear and maintain them very well. We will pull each set in twice a year for cleaning and any maintence needed. This is not to say that if a member gets into some stuff that really gets the gear nasty, it will be sent to be cleaned then. Plus any other maintenance, tears and such is addressed then and taken care of, instead of waiting for the regular schedule maintenance.

    All company officers are charged with the formal inspection of their members gear on the first work day of each month. This way some minor maintenance problems can be addressed before they become major or the gear is damage beyond repair.

    Just make sure what ever you purchase meets all the standards and spec's that are in place at the time you purchase. Don't let a smooth talking sales person sell you something that was on the shelf and made several years ago. Althought, it may be a good buy and it did meet the standards and spec's then and in all probably will be a good set of turnouts, you may want to think about the construction if it will give you the protection that is needed. Your department may not let you wear it while operating on their time and using their apparatus.

    Give a call or visit the larger departments that buy turnout gear in large quaniites and get their input. My department does not stock, maintain or quartermaster any gear except, helmets, hoods and gloves.
    All coats, trousers and boots are stocked by the local fire equipment company which has the contract. They must maintain current standard and spec gear.

    Stay Safe & Well out there...

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ullrichk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Deleted by the forum gremlins
    Posts
    1,663

    Default

    Originally posted by CaptOldTimer
    We do use Nomex, instead of PBI. We feel that Nomex will hold up longer that PBI, based on seeing other departments using PBI and had problems with them.

    I was told by a factory rep. that the tradeoff is that PBI has superior resistance to extreme heat, and that Basofil and Nomex hold up to mechanical wear better and that your choice should reflect the nature of the majority of your calls.

    Any thoughts?
    ullrichk
    a.k.a.
    perfesser

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

  11. #11
    Permanently Removed
    CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default So....?

    What did you decide to buy?

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber
    E229Lt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Posts
    2,987

    Default

    To be honest I like BLACK & TAN
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #13
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,108

    Default

    Okay here is a different perspective on the color issue.

    We bought black Bristol turn-outs. They are Boston spec with 2 tone reflective striping. They are made of Nomex Delta-T. We have been using them for about 5 years and have had no problems with them so far in the areas of wear or heat protection.

    Why did we go black? Every other FD in our area has either tan or yellow gear with tan being predominant. We wanted a quick way to ID our guys on the fire ground and black gear was an easy way to do it. The gear is kept clean so striping is visible. Every helmet has glo-flex trim for high visibility. Every firefighter is issued a green strobe for the back of their helmet for additional visibility.

    As far as absorbing heat, I really haven't noticed a difference worth mentioning. But then again, this is Wisconsin not California or Arizona, we don't get the weeks of pounding sun that you do. So standing outside isn't an issue. As far as being inside with black gear, I am an instructor for the local tech college and I have been in some extremely hot fires and gone in repeatedly with crews and have not noticed a significant difference in the temperature inside the gear. I believe that the thermal liner and the material of the shell are more significant than the color.

    But as with everything else, people should buy the brand, style and color that is appropriate for their particular situation.

    FyredUp

  14. #14
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    238

    Default

    just to let you know black gear will turn PINK if it gets too hot. not enough to burn it but just enough to change the color. that is what happened to my gear.
    IF YOU FOLLOW ALL OF THE RULES YOU MISS ALL OF THE FUN.

    Moose (Post 2028 Vice President/ Command Officer)Explorer Highland Twp. Fire/Rescue Dept.

    Any Questions Contact Me At Moose20282@yahoo.com

    These Are My Opinions, Not that of My Dept. or Any other Orgnazition I Belong to.

  15. #15
    MembersZone Subscriber
    arhaney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Wren, MS Until the forum gremlins pay a visit!
    Posts
    1,448

    Default

    I could swear that I read on some web site that black is supposed to show signs of heat degradation, if I can find the site I'll post it.

  16. #16
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    540

    Default

    I heard this somewhere, correct me if I am wrong,

    but NFPA says gear should be Tan, although we use black.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    5,213

    Default

    Originally posted by MikeF25
    I heard this somewhere, correct me if I am wrong,

    but NFPA says gear should be Tan, although we use black.
    Don't believe so........... If it did, you wouldn't see so many departments wearing black.........

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Rising Sun, MD
    Posts
    168

    Default

    Neither NFPA 1971- Standard on Protective Ensemble for Structural Fire Fighting or NFPA 1851- Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Structural Fire Fighting Protective Ensembles make any reference to turnout gear or trim having to be a specific color.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    FFMcDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    N 41* 2.770' W 74* 7.338'
    Posts
    272

    Default

    To simply say "Black gear" or "Tan gear" holds no water whatsoever...

    There are simply too many varieties of choices out there.

    I have pulled the following information from a Morning Pride catalog - because I happen to like the fact that they lay the facts out - and let you choose -- rather than jam a product down your throat.

    Basofil is actually an engineered blend of 40% Basofil and 60% Kevlar. This outer shell offers exceptional heat blocking characteristics across a range of heat fluxes and thus will
    often allow the use of lighter liner systems. Basofil also appears to be exceptionally durable and comfortable. Basofil, however, does not offer all the advantages of the premium outer shells (PBI).
    Additionally, some competitive fiber providers have raised the issue of formaldehyde off-gassing with Basofil. The third party testing and research we have seen indicate this is NOT a valid concern. Basofil is an intermediately priced product, and we
    believe is among the best of those intermediate products.


    It is available in Natural (pale Yellow), Golden Brown,
    Black, Bright Yellow.

    This Kevlar/Nomex blend product is probably the most durable outer shell and offers 300% improvement in char length over Nomex IIIa outer shells. Kevlar/Nomex stays flexible and supple, maintaining its integrity after moderately severe thermal exposure. While Kevlar/Nomex is a superior product to Nomex, customers are cautioned that the premium outer shells (PBI) offer strong comparative advantages. Kevlar/Nomex should be considered a Nomex upgrade rather than a PBI equivalent. Nomex/Kevlar is priced between Nomex and the premium shell alternatives. We believe Kevlar/Nomex is one of the best of the new products positioned between the premium shells and Nomex with very good comfort and durability characteristics. Kevlar/Nomex is our recommendation for knee and/or pocket reinforcements; it wears like iron. Kevlar/Nomex is also now available with an enhanced water repellency treatment and in a choice of weights and pics.

    Kevlar/Nomes is available in Black, Yellow, Rust, Navy, Khaki, Gold.

    Nomex IIIa products being marketed in the fire service (ours and our competitors) are actually an engineered blend of 93% Nomex, 5% Kevlar and 2% Carbon anti stat. Nomex IIIa is the most economical of the available outer shells. Nomex will not melt, drip or char at temperatures up to 700-750 degrees F. It is also a durable and long wearing material. Nomex is available in two weights (6 oz. & 7.5 oz.) and two weaves (rip stop, and duck). The 7.5 oz duck weave outer shell is the Nomex material which the market is most familiar with, the other Nomex product offerings are newer materials. Nomex IIIa is also now available with enhanced water repellency finishes.

    It is available in Natural (cream) Black, Tan, Yellow,
    Royal Blue, Lime, Red.


    PBI products being marketed in the fire service (ours and our competitors) are actually an engineered blend of 40% PBI and 60% Kevlar. PBI has distinguished itself in some of the most active metro departments. The fabric was initially developed as part of the Project FIRES effort to provide non-charring protection at temperatures above Nomex’s capabilities (approximately 750 degrees F). While Nomex remains an effective insulator charred, it can break away with movement and in the event of a continued or secondary exposure could allow a potentially serious breach in the protective envelope. PBI, in contrast, will resist charring up to temperatures that exceed the firefighter’s biological capabilities. Only PBO offers better anti char performance than PBI. PBI is available in two weights (6.0 oz. & 7.5 oz.). PBI is also now available with enhanced waterproofing. The 7.5 oz rip stop product is available in Black and dying the natural bronze color seems to dramatically
    reduce UV degradation problems and to improve durability. In our opinion, the PBI outer shell (especially in Black) is one of the most preferred and high performing outer shell products.


    It is available in Bronze and Black.


    PBI Matrix products being markeded in the fire service (ours and our competitors) are an engineered blend of PBI and Kevlar with the addition of Kevlar “cables” into the weaving of the cloth. In our opinion, the biggest advantage of the addition of these Kevlar cables is an improvement in fabric strength after ultraviolet light exposure for undyed bronze cloth. We consider this significant, primarily for bronze undyed color product, because the dye in Black PBI seems to minimize UV degradation issues already. The only real complaint we have ever had from the field on PBI product is the UV sensitivity of undyed bronze product (of course, all FR materials have the same UV sensitivity, but most products are dyed, which protects against UV somewhat). The addition of the Kevlar cables seems to help the bronze undyed Matrix PBI address this challenge.
    There are also Taber Abrasion and Trap Tear advantages for the Matrix PBI (as compared to traditional PBI), but since traditional PBI already performed exceptionally well in those areas, we consider those improvements less significant. These products use Kevlar cables, feature enhanced water repellency and are 7.5 oz weight materials. The Gemini Matrix uses a 400 denier Kevlar cable and the SCT Matrix uses a heavier 600 denier Kevlar cable. Both materials are visually distinguishable from traditional PBI, and to a lesser extent from each other.


    Only available in Bronze.


    As far as gear being dirty or not - and you being able to see the dirt on a lighter colored material - I don't buy that either. Because you are going to be either NFPA 1500 compliant - or you aren't. Meaning you will clean your FF's gear.

    NFPA 1851 Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Structural
    Fire Fighting Protective Ensembles

    5.2.1 - After each use any elements that are soiled shall recieve routine cleaning.

    5.2.2 - The end user shall be responsible for the routine cleaning of their personal ensemble or elements.

    5.3.1 - Every six months, at a minimum, elements that have been issued, used and are soiled shall recieve advanced cleaning.
    Marc

    "In Omnia Paratus"

    Member - IACOJ
    "Got Crust?"

    -- The opinions presented here are my own; and are not those of any organization that I belong to, or work for.

  20. #20
    District Chief
    distchief60b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    6,413

    Default

    I could swear that I read on some web site that black is supposed to show signs of heat degradation, if I can find the site I'll post it.
    That is not true. Basically what happens is this. Black is not a natural color for the Fire Gear Fabrics so if you want Black, it is dyed. So when the dyed fabric is exposed to high levels of radiant heat, and then steamed or gets wet, some of the dye runs out giving it a faded appearance, that often takes the shape of a "spot." That "DOES NOT" mean the gear is damaged and there is no fear of failure.

    but NFPA says gear should be Tan, although we use black.
    I am familiar with the standard and have not seen that at all. Besides, if NFPA says it has to be Tan then if you bought something different it would be "Non Compliant." No PPE Dealer will sell you "Non Compliant" structural gear. Additionally, if it was not allowed to be Black, then they could not put the NFPA 1971 Compliant Label in it.

    Basofil is actually an engineered blend of 40% Basofil and 60% Kevlar. This outer shell offers exceptional heat blocking characteristics across a range of heat fluxes and thus will often allow the use of lighter liner systems. Basofil also appears to be exceptionally durable and comfortable. Basofil, however, does not offer all the advantages of the premium outer shells (PBI).
    Additionally, some competitive fiber providers have raised the issue of formaldehyde off-gassing with Basofil. The third party testing and research we have seen indicate this is NOT a valid concern. Basofil is an intermediately priced product, and we
    believe is among the best of those intermediate products.
    Of all the materials I have seen lately I have to agree that Basofil seems to be the superior one. It is very durable, provides high heat resistance, is light weight, and is very tough against UV degradadtion which is important here in Fla.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  21. #21
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Valencia, PA US
    Posts
    12

    Default Tan

    My thoughts are that you can find someone better with dirty tan gear than you can with dirty black gear! I feel that you should ba as visable as possible.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
    FFMcDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    N 41* 2.770' W 74* 7.338'
    Posts
    272

    Lightbulb

    And how about our victims - with no gear at all - how do we find them?



    If you think that tan gear at night - is any more visible than black gear - considering that they both have the same reflective trim on them.....
    Marc

    "In Omnia Paratus"

    Member - IACOJ
    "Got Crust?"

    -- The opinions presented here are my own; and are not those of any organization that I belong to, or work for.

  23. #23
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Here, There, Everywhere
    Posts
    4,191

    Arrow Just take a vote based on facts.

    This whole issue has more to do with personal preference and politics than actual facts.

    Honestly bro if you were really concerned with the color of the gear and supposedly finding someone... wouldn't you'd be wearing bright green or hunters orange or something of that nature? Or even a proximity suit!! What is more visible than that?!? I've been to plenty of fires where the smoke is very very tan or brown. This usually takes place at fires that attack unfinished lumber in walls and void spaces. Tan gear won't standout in low visibilty brown smoke. Not that it makes any difference in the smoke anyhow.

    Despite what some have said it isn't about simple science. Simple Science got us lime-green fire Engines that acually in the "REAL World" got into MORE accidents than the red or primary colored apparatus. While simple science was correct that the human eye could more easily recognize lime-green than red....when actually applied in the real world a number of factors not taken into account in the lab led to the unexpected results of increased accidents. Don't fall into the trap of accepting simple scientific concepts as the answer for a very complex issue.

    The color of the gear doesn't matter. Just as others have said...there is no NFPA standard that states tan is prefered. I wear black and I prefer it over the tan and yellow I used to wear in previous depts. But you know what...there is no difference other than the manufactuer and design...the color doesn't matter that much other than the black looks better over a long time(stains are hidden) and it shows the high thermal exposure.

    Shine a light on red, blue, white, tan, black gear at night...It all looks black. The visibilty has everything to do with the reflective trim. Otherwise we'd all be wearing white, flouresent orange and green gear. Yes reflective trim, fades, burns off, falls off...however that doesn't keep you from putting it on there in the first place...If you don't think your trim is bright enough anymore...have it replaced.

    I've yet to see anyone provide any real scientific evidence regarding actuall firefighting gear...not stealth aircraft or the hoods of cars in Las Vegas...in relation to body core temp and the color of the gear. I've worn Tan, Black and Yellow...they are all hot and unplesant in the summer...personally I've seen no difference as a number of other guys I know don't see it either.

    I would like anyone to provide a NIOSH report that states the color of the gear directly or indirectly led to the injury or death of a firefighter. I would think if this was really an issue they would have uncovered it by now.

    One reason my dept went with black was the ability to see heat damage more readily with black than tan. The thermal loading is quite evident in the training gear issued to probies in the accademy. Since they aren't subject to real fires, older otherwise damaged gear is issued as training gear until thier gear is ordered and shipped. They field tested both types tan and black for a number of years...with many FFs going to 100s if not 1000s of fires. The R&D was quite thorough on this. Most depts obvioulously don't have the ability to test gear in this manner.

    What it really comes down to is preference. Don't let some one make up "facts" or "concerns" that have no basis in true science and real world applications. If you as a dept wants tan..get tan...If you guys want black get black.
    Have your dept sit down and discuss what everyone wants, take a vote and problem solved.

    I'd worry more about design and comfort than the color issue

    FTM-PTB
    Last edited by FFFRED; 02-22-2004 at 05:00 PM.

  24. #24
    Permanently Removed
    CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default Re: Just take a vote based on facts.

    Originally posted by FFFRED
    the color doesn't matter that much other than the black looks better over a long time(stains are hidden) and it shows the high thermal exposure.
    Sorry FFFred, I see you are all about "the looks" and wants
    to hide stains? I rather wash the stains outs out if
    possible.

    Again, I am for function and comfort rather than
    just because gear is traditional. And yes, simple
    science is a good (not only) source for looking
    at things and ideas. Like I said, I dont know of
    one western desert FD (CA, AZ or NV)that wears
    black.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 02-23-2004 at 01:01 AM.

  25. #25
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default Re: Tan

    Originally posted by rocknrob
    My thoughts are that you can find someone better with dirty tan gear than you can with dirty black gear! I feel that you should ba as visable as possible.
    The color of the gear has nothing to do with the ability to rescue someone... it's training for the worst case scenario.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register