London Fire Brigade

Our history of uniforms

The clothing we wear to attend incidents and tackle fires has changed a lot during our 150 year history. Here is a timeline of some of the most iconic uniforms and when they were introduced.

The woolen tunic (1866 - 1936)

In 1866, Chief Fire Officer Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw introduced a new uniform consisting of a blue double-breasted serge tunic and trousers.

Each firefighter would have carried an axe and a hose spanner.

The firefighter would also wear a number on their tunic. This number represented a person's rank and the number decreased as their seniority increased.


A change to the leggings (1914 - 1974)

In 1914, rubber leggings were introduced.

The woollen trousers were easily waterlogged and became very heavy as a result.

The new rubber leggings kept the firemen dry and were much lighter than wool when wet.


Iconic yellow leggings (1974 - 1989)

In 1974, the wool tunic stayed but the black rubber leggings were phased out and replaced with the iconic yellow leggings.

The bright yellow leggings helped with visibility in smoke filled rooms.


The first Nomex suit (1989 - 1999)

The first Nomex suit was introduced in 1989.

The fabric offered far greater protection from the heat and flames of the fire and was waterproof.

These were the first suits that had the same protection in the coat and the trousers.


The 'inferno' (1999 - 2010)

In 1999, the 'inferno' was phased into service.

This maroon suit was more pliable and heat resistant than the previous suit. This allowed firefighters easier movement and the ability to stay in hot conditions for longer.

The suit has three layers: fireproof, waterproof and thermal protection.


Today's design (2010 - present day)

Introduced in 2010, today's personal protective equipment (PPE) is made of the lightest, most protective materials possible.

The Ergotech Action design includes many features to increase the comfort for firefighters, such as action pleats, shaped sleeves and knees.

 

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