When Safety and Comfort Count

By ALICE RAWSTHORN

LONDON — Imagine being a firefighter. How can you expect to survive everything from fires, floods, explosions, collapsing buildings and rescuing kittens from drains to being engulfed by a fireball?

Firefighters from the Lincolnshire Fire
and Rescue Service in England.

One hope is your uniform. As well as protecting your body from heat and flames, it needs to be light and supple enough to allow you to move freely in perilous situations, such as carrying someone out of a burning building or jumping away from falling debris. It also has a diplomatic role of encouraging people to trust you and your colleagues, to follow your safety advice and to allow you into their homes.


Lincolnshire County Council
Firefighters extinguished a fire in their old uniforms.

That is a lot to expect from a set of clothing, but it was exactly what the designers of the first national uniform for the English Fire and Rescue Services were asked to deliver. The new uniform was recently introduced in the rural county of Lincolnshire, and other local services now have the option of adopting it too. “So far it has lived up to its billing,” said Mike Thomas, Lincolnshire’s chief fire officer. “It is very, very comfortable to wear, and doesn’t restrict movement, which is important in reducing the physiological and psychological stress of this job.”

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