Why Do Firefighters Wear Suspenders?


Most of us have seen at least one movie or TV show that included a firefighter. But, if you’ve ever taken a closer look at the average uniform of a firefighter, you might have noticed that they tend to wear suspenders.

The simple reason that firefighters wear suspenders is that it helps to keep their pants from falling down. This can happen while fighting a fire, as the firefighter’s turnout pants get wet and become very heavy or when the firefighter must crawl on the ground.

Suspenders aren’t only a fashion statement. They’re actually considered a mandatory part of firefighter equipment in many states across the United States! Read more about firefighter suspenders below.

If you are looking for some of the best firefighter suspenders, the Boston Leather 9175 Firefighter Suspenders are a firefighter favorite!

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Keeping Equipment On

Let’s talk about what suspenders are and why they’re used. Suspenders attach to your pants in the front and back and hook over each of your shoulders. Depending on how tight you have your suspenders, your pants will stay exactly where they are, no matter what movements you do

To understand why firefighters might need suspenders to keep their firefighter pants up, you need to strongly consider how much their equipment weighs on average. It would also help to understand what the potential consequences could be if a firefighter weren’t wearing suspenders and his pants fell down on the job!

The Weight of Firefighter Equipment

When firefighters rush into burning buildings to extinguish fires and rescue civilians, they need equipment that’ll protect them from the heat and gases common in structural fires!

What many people don’t seem to understand is just how heavy firefighter equipment can be. Here’s a breakdown of how much firefighter equipment weighs.

If you take a look at the protective gear that a firefighter must wear while on the job, it’s an astounding 45 pounds. Based on that number, it would be reasonable to guess that the pants on their own weigh several pounds.

Jeans and sweatpants usually fit nicely around your waist and stay put if they’re sized correctly, but they’re also extremely lightweight compared to firefighter pants.

That means that the pants that firefighters wear are more likely to fall down because of the weight associated with them and the intense movements that firefighters might be required to perform.

However, most of the time, firefighters turnout pants stay up just fine. The real problem comes when they get wet. Firefighters use thousands of gallons of water to extinguish fires. It is quite common for turnout pants and boots to get very wet (the materials they are made of can hold and absorb a ton of water). Once they are full of water, they become a lot heavier (water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon) and will easily fall down without the help of suspenders.

Ultimately, suspenders can be incredibly useful in keeping the pants of firefighters around their waist like they’re supposed to be!

To learn more about why firefighters use water to put out fires, read: What Do Firefighters Use to Put Out a Fire?

The Impact of Not Having Suspenders

firefighter turnout/bunker pants, suspenders and boots

We know why suspenders can be useful when worn firefighters, but it’s also important to consider what could happen if firefighters weren’t wearing suspenders. It goes way past their pants coming down!

Here are some dangers or risks that come along with not wearing suspenders as a firefighter.

  • They’re more likely to trip or fall over their pants. If a firefighter is running toward a fire, working his way up a flight of stairs, or simply checking out a scene, his pants coming down can actually be extremely dangerous. When his pants end up around his ankles or begin to limit his movements, he’ll be more likely to trip or fall. This can cause an injury to himself or others if he’s on a call!
  • Pulling the pants back up requires a ton of effort. Think about the equipment that firefighters have to wear while on the job, particularly their thick gloves and their coats. If a firefighter’s pants begin to come down, pulling them back up can be pretty difficult. He’ll have to try to get a firm grip around his pants with his gloves and then work around his coat to pull his pants back up!
  • It’s distracting. When a firefighter is on a call, he should only be focused on responding to the call. If his pants are loose or begin to come down, his attention will be turned toward fixing his pants. This can also severely limit his performance and put the safety of others at incredible risk!

Though suspenders are pretty outdated when it comes to style (though they do seem to be making a comeback), they are still extremely useful when it comes to functional purposes. That’s exactly why firefighters are required to wear them when performing their job duties.

Firefighter Rescue

Though we’d like to imagine all firefighters exiting the scene of a fire on their own two feet, there are rare circumstances in which firefighters become injured or incapacitated and need assistance leaving the scene.

At that point, other firefighters would need to join forces in order to remove the firefighter. This means a RIC (Rapid Intervention Crew) or RIT (Rapid Intervention Team), which is a group of firefighters assigned to be ready to respond and rescue firefighters if needed, will come to assist.

So, you might be wondering how suspenders could possibly help with removing a firefighter. When you consider the weight of a firefighter and all of his equipment, you’ll begin to understand just how vital a role suspenders play in firefighter removal!

Why a Firefighter Would Need to Be Rescued

There are plenty of risks that come along with firefighters entering structural fires, especially when it’s an intense fire. There’s always a risk that a firefighter will become injured, trapped or unconscious while at a fire.

Here are some situations that may require a firefighter to physically be removed from the scene by his peers.

  • Inability to walk: This can be caused by falling through the floor or stairs while in the structure or injuring the leg or foot while working. If a firefighter can’t exit the structure, he’ll need assistance in doing so.
  • Loss of consciousness: This is usually due to exposure to toxic gases, smoke inhalation or being knocked unconscious by falling materials. These are serious conditions and require immediate medical attention, meaning immediate removal from the structure is necessary. They are protected from breathing smoke and gases by an SCBA, but if air runs out or the equipment malfunctions, it could cause them to inhale the smoke.
  • Trapped: While firefighting a building can collapse causing falling ceiling and other debris to come down on the firefighters. This has the potential to trap the firefighters and would need assistance to be freed.

Firefighters highly depend on one another to extinguish fires. But, they also need their fellow firefighters to have their back. That means rescuing one of their own if another firefighter becomes incapacitated and requires rescue.

How Suspenders Help with Rescue

When a firefighter is down, it’s time for him to be the one rescued!

As we mentioned earlier, the equipment that firefighters weigh can be well over 75 pounds. Add that to the weight of the firefighter himself and you’ve got a pretty difficult task ahead of you when it comes to removing a firefighter!

Suspenders can help with the removal process.

When a firefighter is being removed, the goal is to remove him as quickly and efficiently as possible. Sometimes that means latching onto a piece of his equipment and dragging him to safety.

When the firefighter is being rescued, they may need to be dragged along the ground. This can cause their gear to be pulled and with no suspenders, their pants will get pulled down. This will make rescue even more difficult than it already is!

Here is a video showing the basics of RIT firefighter rescue, so you can see how the gear and suspenders can affect the rescue:

Conclusion

Firefighters don’t usually wear suspenders because they match their outfit or make them look cool. In many states, firefighters are actually required to wear suspenders as part of their work uniform. Here are the two major reasons that firefighters wear suspenders while on the job!

  • Suspenders help firefighters to keep their heavy firefighter pants up once they get wet and prevent them from falling down while fighting a fire.
  • Suspenders can be a useful tool when it comes to removing a firefighter from a dangerous situation, especially if the firefighter is unconscious or injured.

If you are looking for some of the best firefighter suspenders, the Boston Leather 9175 Firefighter Suspenders are a firefighter favorite!

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Chase

I have been a Firefighter in Northern California since 2012 and a Paramedic since 2008. My site is dedicated to helping answer questions people have about the fire service. I am passionate about helping to share what I have learned and assisting those who are pursuing a career as a firefighter. Thanks for coming to my site!

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