"Don't fix what is not broken" is a common phrase used to impede change or at least to question change for change's sake. If we look at the turnout clothing industry, we actually see a product range that is relatively mature with continual, gradual improvements.
In essence, gear is pretty much the way it has been for more than two decades. Yes there are the occasional blips where something new comes along like barrier hoods, and novel improvements can bring about an interesting materials or features.
For the most part, the vast majority of the fire service seems to be satisfied with current state of technology for turnout gear. But the reality is that we live in a rapidly changing world, and we are constantly affected by new discoveries and technological developments.
The current situation leads to two questions: why are there not larger changes afoot in the industry, and what types of changes might the fire service be missing out on?
Change comes about usually because of firefighter needs or a new technology becomes available that supplants the old technology. In the early 2000s, SCBA went through a tremendous change when there was a perceived need that there needed to be chemical, biological and radiological protection as part of the SCBA.
This need drove some significant changes in how SCBA were designed and the materials used in their construction. At about the same time, it became possible to incorporate a heads up display that allowed a more effective means for firefighters to monitor their air levels.
These changes occurred for two different reasons. In the first case, there is the perception that firefighters would be the first on scene to a weapons of mass destruction event. The second change came about due to an advancement of technology.
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