What To Wear? EMS Vs Tech Rescue Vs Structural Fire Gear

By Ricochet Gear March 30, 2021
It feels like since the start of the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic last year, the world has been playing a constant game of "what to wear and when is it appropriate?"

We know you've seen the videos, the viral clips, the spoofs. 

A finance bro getting up from behind his desk on his Zoom meeting, and he's only in his underwear—a celebrity singer performing a live stream in their sweatpants instead of diamond-bedazzled tracksuits.

And to be clear, we aren't here to shame anyone. If there's one thing we can appreciate, it's getting home and kicking into something more comfortable ASAP.

Fortunately or not, there typically aren't as many Zoom meetings at firehouses as there might be for some other professions out there. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of time spent in more casual wear around the firehouse, or that, on the flip side, our firefighter family doesn't know how to dress to the nines when needed.

However, there might be some folks out there that are just like us, pulling double duty on both the fire and EMS side, that might have multiple hats (or pants, or jackets) that they have to juggle between on a daily or weekly basis.

Even if those folks out there do pull double duty, chances are they don’t face the challenges we do in terms of their PPE requirements. While switching from one set of PPE to the other might not result in any wardrobe malfunction viral gaffe (but hey, we're sure they will try), it is something that we have to always be conscious of.

Since we at Ricochet handle multiple types of gear sets, we wanted to put together a comparison with the goal of illustrating the differences between the types of PPE, not unlike your next game of "do I wear this collared shirt or a tuxedo to my Facetime happy hour?"

EMS Gear
ricochet ems gear

To start, we know that you, the EMS professional, know exactly when you have to wear what. We're not cheeky. You know the calls you go on; you know what days you are at what house and what shifts you are on. We just wanted to highlight some of the main differences between our most popular gear lines, and yeah, have a little fun while doing it.

The first and most important part of Ricochet EMS gear is the certification. All Ricochet EMS gear is NFPA 1999 approved. Why is that important to you? Because on an EMS call, the ONLY thing that is protecting you from blood-borne pathogens, bodily fluids, and any other liquid, is the moisture barrier. Without the moisture barrier, the garment is not NFPA 1999 approved, is not liquid-proof, and leaves you open to get wet. From what, exactly? Well...you know patients, so use your imagination!

Moving on from the certification, you know that visibility can be one of the most important things to consider on an EMT call. Because of that, we offer our RescueVIZ™ EMS line. These jackets and pants provide excellent value and unmatched versatility for EMS ANSI-107 certified gear. Not to mention, they are incredibly comfortable and are the most breathable EMS gear on the market today. The standard-issue includes a fully-sealed 3.5 oz/yd2 HiViz Yellow CROSSTECH® EMS fabric shell: vapor-permeable, liquid, and blood-borne pathogen protection, that is NFPA 1999 certified. It also sports a breathable mesh lining with an inside barrier inspection/access port. You'll also get 2" Silver reflective heat applied trim encircles jacket cuffs and jacket body around the chest and back with two vertical stripes on the chest.

If add-ons or options are your things, we got you there too. The RescueVIZ™EMS line includes a detachable snap-on hood, identification options, reflective lettering, and Polartec® zip-in warmth liners. 

For more details on this line and to see how it compares to our other EMS lines, including the Sentinel and ReadyVIZ™, click here for our e-brochure!

USAR/Tech Rescue Gear

A step up from EMS gear is USAR/Tech Rescue gear. What is unique about USAR/Tech Rescue gear is that it is dual-certified to both NFPA 1999 and NFPA 1951. This means that with Ricochet USAR/Tech Rescue gear, you get the full liquid and bloodborne pathogen protection outlined in NFPA 1999, but you also get the abrasion and flame resistance that is called out in NFPA 1951. It’s the best of both worlds!

Ricochet USAR/Tech Rescue gear is manufactured with either a NOMEX IIIA 6oz, TenCate Agility 5.5oz, or a Springfield Westex DH 7.5oz outer shell, which is the NFPA 1951 portion of the garment, and available in Navy Blue, Tan, Black, or HiViz. Each of those is paired with a Gore S/R/ CROSSTECH moisture barrier to get you the NFPA 1999 portion. When combined, you’re ready to go for just about anything other than an interior fire attack.

When you pair these certifications and standards together, you’ve got a garment that is tough, protective, weatherproof, comfortable, flexible, and can handle just about any call that you’re going to have, other than a true confirmed structure fire. An overview of our Tech Rescue product line can be seen here.

More specifically, we’ve created a package called the Out Front series which combines these great features into an economical package, just for you. Our Out Front USAR/Tech Rescue coat can be seen here.

If the package isn’t specific enough for you, we also offer a fully customizable USAR/Tech Rescue set, which can be seen here.

We also want to be fully transparent...there are other USAR/Tech Rescue sets out in the field which are marketed as “dual certified”. However, please use caution with those garments. Many of those so-called “dual certifications” are actually NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1977 approvals. Why is this important? We’re glad you asked!

NFPA 1977 is the standard for Wildland Firefighting Gear, and essentially, this standard requires only an outer shell. NFPA 1951 is the standard for Technical Rescue, and also, essentially, only requires an outer shell. This means that if you don a USAR/Tech Rescue garment that is dual 1951/1977 certified, you have no moisture barrier. That means no liquid protection, no bloodborne pathogen protection, no water protection, no weather protection. Just a shell. There are places throughout the world where this may be appropriate, but for most of us, this type of lower-level dual certification wouldn’t suffice for the majority of calls that we deal with on a daily basis.

True USAR/Tech Rescue/EMS protection combined comes from Ricochet USAR/Tech Rescue gear, with dual compliance to both NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1999. That is the secret sauce to the PPE that allows you to meet the vast majority of your call volume, and keep you safer, while also keeping you more comfortable.

Structural Gear
ricochet structural fire gear

Okay, to switch gears, pun intended, it's your day in the firehouse. You have your structural gear all set, but how does it differ from either the EMS or the USAR/Tech Rescue gear you may have been wearing at some other point in time?

All Ricochet structural gear is fully certified and compliant to NFPA 1971, the standard on PPE for structural firefighting. This is the top of the line, and what protects you while battling the blazes of structure fires and live fire attacks.

Ricochet offers several technical rescue and structural firefighting gear lines, but we will cover the latter- with our M2 (Maximum Mobility) Lines. 

Available in both our M2 Response™ and M2 Prime™ package options, these offer top-level safety, performance, and comfort for any budget. We custom-build these products to be tough and long-lasting and provide the industry's best value. But why do we call our structural lines the M2?

Whether you call it “bunker” or “turnout” gear, structural firefighting gear doesn’t have a reputation for being comfortable. It binds up and gets tight when you move, it’s bulky, it’s restrictive, and you can’t wait to doff it. You told us about rising hems, tightening in the back and shoulder blades, binding in the elbows, sleeve migration, bulky collars, and restrictiveness in the crotch and knees.

We want you to know that we are listening, and we heard your concerns. We have examined all critical areas of binding and discomfort that have plagued you for years in various gear designs. We have dedicated our innovation efforts to help to improve these problems, and we are proud to offer you breakthroughs in structural gear, providing you with what we call Maximum Mobility (M²).

Maximum Mobility (M²) implements cutting-edge technology with ergonomic engineering that works with the dynamics of YOUR body, not a mannequin. The results are fabric patterns designed to reduce binding, tightening, rising, bulk, and restrictiveness, all of which contribute to discomfort, exhaustion, muscle fatigue, hobbling, and heat stress. We offer you a design to provide fit, comfort, and mobility throughout all three layers of your turnout gear.

Maximum Mobility (M²): A greater range of motion and comfort than any other gear on the market.

We know you’re tough, and your job is tougher. Making it more difficult to get your job done when seconds are critical and lives are on the line is unacceptable. We want you to be safer, but also more comfortable, with more flexibility, and we’ve achieved that for you with Max Mobility.

We believe that there is no reason why you can’t be safe, protected, AND comfortable, at an affordable price.

Our M2 Response™ package features an ergonomic design and comes in four exclusive shell/liner systems chosen for excellent heat protection, breathability and value. This line is available with rapid turnaround, meaning it can get to you in as little as three weeks. 

Your other choice, the M2 Prime™ package, comes in three shell/liner composites with top-of-the-line fabrics chosen for superior heat protection and breathability, plus many added features.

Don't face a turnout gear gaffe! Compare these two industry-leading sets of firefighting turnout gear by checking out our ONLINE BROCHURE or giving your local Ricochet sales rep a call or click today!