Firefighters’ protective clothing (Firemen Turn-out Suit) for structural firefighting is manufactured from three layers, each layer performing a specific function.
The outer layer is the first defence against flame lick and heat. In addition, this fabric should be tough and durable in terms of abrasion resistance and strength of the fabric before and after contact with heat and flame.
The moisture barrier is the second layer which is required to give protection against water and some chemicals (making the garment ‘waterproof’). However, it must also be breathable, i.e. to allow the wearer’s perspiration to move away from the body. This layer must also be strong and durable.
The thermal barrier is usually quilted to a carrier fabric, which is the inner layer. The function of the thermal barrier is to prevent the heat transferring through the garment. This is achieved by using the air in the thermal barrier, and the combination of the other materials.
The combination of the above materials provides the best possible protection for firefighters. However, it is also important that the weight of the clothing is kept to a minimum to counter the effects of heat stress, without any compromise to the safety of the wearer, or to the quality of the garment.