Firefighters' uniforms.

The clothing we wear to attend incidents and tackle fires has changed a lot. Here is a timeline of some of the most iconic uniforms and when they were introduced.  
The woolen tunic (1866 - 1936)

The woollen 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)

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 legs dry, and were much lighter than wool when wet.

Iconic yellow leggings (1974 - 1989)

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 (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)

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.

The Ergotech Action (2010 - 2018)

The Ergotech Action (2010 - 2018)

Introduced in 2010, this personal protective equipment (PPE) was made of the lightest, most protective materials possible at the time.

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

Today's design - 2018 to present day

Today's design (October 2018)

The 'gold standard' of modernised personal protective equipment (PPE) reflects the changing role of the modern firefighter.

  • The light colour of the ‘Titan 1260 fabric with PBI fibres in the gold colour will show contamination easier than the previous dark blue PPE. This will allow firefighters to see any carbon contamination or general detritus at an earlier stage and send the items for cleaning.

  • The ‘X-Flex’ range selected, is lighter than our previous PPE, has action pleats in the coat to allow more movement and the tough outer shell offers good air circulation enhanced breathability and comfort . The outer shell of the garments offer the maximum thermal protection available, whilst minimising the risk of heat stress.

  • The Rosenbauer helmet is fitted with an integrated torch in the crest to light up the firefighters working area.

  • The gloves are made of a Nomex and Elk leather combination, which allows for them to be washed in a washing machine and all contamination removed. Currently gloves are washed locally at the station, but they don’t come up as clean as the new ‘gold’ ones will.

  • The PPE can be used at any incident the London Fire Brigade attends and firefighters have been additionally issued with a pair of ‘Rescue Gloves’. These are a lighter glove that can be used for all incidents that don’t involve fire and give a greater dexterity and improve the health and safety for the user to handle smaller equipment