Everything you need to know about firefighter gloves and NFPA standards
Battling a fire calls for very specific – and safe – gloves. The intense high heat, the flames, the water… everything about fighting fires is a dangerous, courageous job and is made safer by the rules and regulations surrounding this kind of work, including the PPE worn by the firefighter.
Firefighting gloves must provide proper fit, dexterity, and protection from physical hazards, such as sharp edges or rough surfaces, as well as adamant protection from flame and heat. Meeting such diverse requirements has proven to be one of the most challenging obstacles that glove manufacturers face.
For the wearer or person in charge of finding the right PPE, understanding the standards can lead to helping you choose the right glove for your needs.
Updates to the NFPA standard
There’s been a lot of changes in the structural fire glove market in the last ten years, the most recent being the update to the NFPA 1971 standard to help ensure more guidelines are being followed in glove manufacturing.
NFPA 1971 protects firefighting personnel by establishing minimum levels of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and bloodborne pathogen hazards encountered during structural and proximity firefighting operations. It also applies to design, performance, testing, and certification for structural and proximity firefighting ensembles, including gloves.
In 2018, an update to the standard NFPA 1971 was released that provided much-needed changes to provide better protection to firefighters. Here are the important changes:
- Water barrier: NFPA now specifies that the moisture barrier of a glove is to be resistant to liquid-borne or blood-borne pathogens and shall not allow passage of a virus* for at least one hour.
- Back-of-hand protection: The performance requirement for the back of the glove has been increased to include more thermal protection for the when, where, and how firefighters are typically burned: the back of the hand, while clenching a tool or hose-line, and by radiant heat from a fire.
- Glove sizing: A new system takes a more objective perspective for glove sizing by: (1) providing guidance on how to measure a firefighter for a glove; and (2) providing a standard for glove sizing that standardizes manufacturers’ glove labeling as being NFPA 1971-compliant.
Up-close glove sizing changes
NFPA-compliant gloves have a new sizing rule. Glove manufacturers can no longer label gloves as (S), (M), (L), or (XL) or larger but, instead, must meet the new glove sizing requirements:
- 64N (normal)
- 64W (wide)*
- 64XW (extra wide)*
- 70N (normal)
- 70W (wide)
- 70XW (extra wide)*
- 76N (normal)
- 76W (wide)
- 76XW (extra wide)*
- 82N (normal)
- 82W (wide)
- 82XW (extra wide)*
These new sizes correlate to a study conducted by the Army that found the most accurate way to obtain the best glove fit.
Measure the length of the index finger from the tip of the finger to the base of the finger—to the nearest 1mm (1/16th-inch).
Measure the breadth of the hand to the nearest 1mm (1/16th-inch) across the metacarpals (knuckles) on the back of the hand.
Using the graph contained in NFPA 1971, the two measurements are plotted on the graph to find the proper glove size.
Additionally, there are options for both index finger length and hand width measurements within glove sizing. Glove manufacturers also can create custom-sized gloves for those who do not fit the shown sizes but must be labeled with the closest applicable size and have the word “Custom” added, such as 64C (Custom).
Structural firefighting gloves by HexArmor®
HexArmor® can help you fight fire. Introducing FireArmor® SR-X® 8180 structural firefighting gloves, compliant and certified to NFPA 1971:2018. Built to battle high heat and intense situations, FireArmor® SR-X® gloves were designed with the input of firefighters on several live burn trainings across the country to ensure high marks in safety, comfort, dexterity, and grip.
- Glove offers 360-degree heat resistance and a 360-degree barrier against liquids
- Outer layer is made of water-resistant and flame-resistant cow suede, including form-fitted fingers, to give the wearer superior comfort and dexterity
- Kevlar inner liner delivers increased back-of-hand heat protection
- Reinforced patches on accident-prone areas help battle excess heat and wear when clenching a tool or hose-line
- Gloves are launderable and faster-drying than the competition for a longer-lasting and more efficient glove choice than traditional structural firefighting gloves
Made for firefighters, tested by firefighters, and approved by firefighters. FireArmor® SR-X® structural firefighting gloves are your best line of defense against heat, liquids, and debris.
*PhiX174 is a small, icosahedral, non-tailed virus with a circular single-stranded DNA that has been used in many landmark experiments because of its small genome size (5,386 nucleotides and nonpathogenic status. Nonpathogenic organisms like PhiV174 are those that do not cause disease, harm or death to another organism and is usually used to describe bacteria).