1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Rural Iowa

    Default Advice on wildland gear for dept

    Rural NE Iowa Vol dept. Our wildland fires are grass or corn/bean fields. Average 2-10 acres. We have never had ANY wildland gear. At all. Typically respond in street/farm clothes or old bunker gear (all we had was old gear). We just purchased new head to toe bunker gear with fire grant $ and would rather not tear up in a grass/field fire. Obviously not good from heat injury standpoint as well.

    We have a bit of PPE $ left in fire grant and thinking of buying some wildland. At least to eliminate the bunker coat. As we respond to pages (vs living on a fire line) looking for fast to don. Thinking perhaps the zipper style "PPE"/wildland jackets. In Indura Cotton or in Nomex. $80-100ea. At a minimum lighter and I think cooler than bunker coat. Could wear bunker pants (with the leather boots we bought) or perhaps with street pants. We find some more $ under a rock perhaps in the future buy wildland pants and/or button shirts/hardhats.

    Recommendations/suggestions/ideas on how you would approach.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    HFRH28's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    North Carolina


    We have two types of wildand gear, Indura Cotton and Nomex. I forget where the nomex came from but the Cotton gear came from Chiefs supply. The cotton is heavier but in my opinion, having worn both at one time or another, the cotton resist heat transfer a little more. We have zipper style coats with 2 pockets on the nomex and 4 pockets on the Cotton. One thing to be sure of to get on your coats is reflective striping. It cost you more per coat, but is WELL worth it! The forestry service equipment operators will tell you that the reflective striping is VERY important, because it stands out to them. We also purchased helmets, gloves, and pants. No goggles or boots, those are left to the individual.

    I'm not trying to tell your department what to do, but I would make it clear that bunker gear needs to go on the call with the wildland gear. What starts out as a brush fire may soon turn into something that requires more protection.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Penn Valley, Ca


    I live and work in Ca and have worked in the Northwest, Great Basin, etc. on wildland fires. Grass to timber and everything in between. In my belief it is best to use the lightest stuff you can and still meet the standard. The USFS for instance (who I mostly worked for) uses thin Nomex pants almost like uniform pants and a single layer thin Nomex shirt. This is the best way IMO.

    On a fire you are much more likely to go down from heat related injury than any burns so keep it light as possible I say. Unlike structural firefighting in vegetation we should never be relying on our equipment to protect us from the effects of fire.

    Since I live and work in the "front country" now, that is CDF land, they have adopted a bit more reactionary policy probably because someone wasn't being careful and got themselves burned, of having baggy Nomex pants over regular pants and Nomex shirts with cotton liners in the sleeves (since they could never force anyone to wear long sleeve t-shirt under their Nomex) but I bet they have a lot more heat related injury and lost work production because of it.

    So I say go light and remember that the gear is there to protect you in the event of a major miscalculation, it should not be a part of your operation. You should almost be able to fight fire in your shorts and be OK


    p.s. I neglected to mention that I prefer Nomex over the treated cotton the same way because the cotton is much heavier to meet the same standard and I do not believe reflective striping or heavy silk screening are a good idea at all because if you do get burned with them, they tend to leave permanent brands on the skin.

    Last edited by BirkenVogt; 07-27-2005 at 11:29 AM.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ramseycl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Next to the big ditch


    This is my third season on a wildland crew working anywhere from Idaho to Arizona. I agree BirkenVogt, go light. We have the nomex pants and the standard yellow shirts. One thing to think about with using your structure boots is how heavy they are, and the chance for them to rub blisters on your feet. It doesn't take long to change when you get a call, more than once I have opened my car door to provide a little privacy and changed into my wildland stuff.
    Are you guys looking at getting line gear and shelters as well? If not I would strongly recomend it. Several burn overs have occured on small grass/sage fires. The fires tend to move fast and catch people where they shouldn't be. You can always just get a shelter and attach it to your belt, don't let the security of the engine fool you.

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    RxFire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999


    As has been stated... get actual wildland gear. In over 10 years of wildland experience, many fuel types and terrains... light is good

    If you can get some thru GSA, that would be your least expensive route. In a quick web search, Cascade Fire looks pretty reasonable for price.

    I would avoid going for the coverall style of PPE in that it isn't as flexable on sizing options, and if one portion wears out, the whole thing is "worn out" then.

    Definately outfit your crews with shelters. You don't need full packs, but a belt with your shelter and water to drink and fusees to burn out safety zone will be a cheap investment vs. a LODD. After all one of the common demoninators of wildland LODD is fires "in relatively light fuels, such as grass, herbs and light brush." Also train on Engine protection drills, so that should any breakdown or sudden change for the worse occur, you have a plan to protect the crew and apparatus.
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!

  6. #6
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    25 NW of the GW


    No matter which gear you decide to go with, I strongly suggest you contact the Iowa DNR.

    In addition to possibly helping you with a GSA order, they also have a Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program....which can include monies for gear, equipment and tools. (You didn't mention if the current grant monies came from them)

    VFA Application

    The deadline for submission is November 15th of this year.

    You can get valuable information at their website:

    IowaDNR Forestry

    Good luck...Be Safe!
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    Obviously the best thing would be to get everyone outfitted with appropriate wildland gear and shelters, but I also realize that probably won't happen. Depending on the number of members in the department and how many sets of gear you can get I have a couple of suggestions.

    1. Figure out which firefighters show up the most reliably for wildland fires, then get enough sets to outfit them fully. The other firefighters will have to make do with bunker gear. If this gives you enough people to get the job done right this would be my choice.

    2. Get everybody FR cotton coats (FR cotton only because it is cheaper and still meets the standard, Nomex offers better protection) and require them to wear denim pants and sturdy leather boots on wildland fires, while this does not meet any kind of current standard it is still better than what many departments respond in and I think a better situation than bunker gear, in reality this would be about the level of protection used by forward thinking departments in the 70's. Structure helmets should be fine for the smallish short duration fires you describe, wildland helmets are lighter but that shouldn't be an issue, the bunker gear is a pretty serious heat issue for crews working and I know many departments make up "wildland gear" by allowing bunker pants & boots only (and I mean only, I've been on fires and seen Bunker pants and boots, T-shirt & ball cap optional) so this would put you ahead of many out there.

    I agree with the other posters out there about staying light, in California many departments follow the 2 layer rule CDF uses but I also believe this came from a knee jerk reaction, yes it gives you better protection but there have been several studies that show the heat related injuries (heat exhaustion / stroke) is a much bigger threat than getting burned and the heat injuries are harder to prevent since they can occur without even being near the fire. This is why I would actually prefer to see partial fire gear instead of bunkers used.

    If possible shelters are worth the money but if you can't get them (and I understand since a shelter costs about as much as a set of PPE) I would recommend you try and make escape and shelter in vehicle drills a mandatory part of your training, since you are dealing with several of the common denominatiors, light flashy fuels, and small fires that appear innocent.

    The suggestion to check out your DNR is also a good one, the USFS and other agencies provide alot of money and equipment for wildland firefighting through state forestry agencies.

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