Your PPE is not invincible. It’s not designed for you to walk through fire. It provides limited protection against hazards associated with structural fire fighting operations, non-fire related rescue operations, emergency medical operations and victim extrication.
PPE Your protective ensemble consists of turnouts, helmets, hoods, boots and gloves. They work together as a team to help guard against the dangers of fire fighting. You must always wear each element when entering a hazardous area.
Exposure to flashover, backdraft or other flame and high-heat environments places you at extreme risk for extensive burn injuries and death, even while wearing NFPA 1971 compliant structural PPE. Your PPE only give you a few seconds of escape time, and even with this escape time, you may still be burned.
PPE should always be dry and clean when stored. It should be stored in a cool location that has good cross-ventilation and is not exposed to direct light. Direct light (sunlight or artificial) can break down the protective fibers in your PPE, putting you at risk. Once this type of damage begins, it cannot be repaired.
Because your PPE may be the only thing between you and the fire, you need to perform a routine inspection on all of your PPE components each time you report for duty. The fire ground is no place to discover something’s broken or missing.