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Technical Rescue & Training Blog

Arctic Structural Collapse PPE
cgurley on 2014-04-03 11:15:52

As promised, here is the report on PPE from the first ever Sub Arctic Structural Collapse Technician Course in Fairbanks, AK. I have divided this in to two separate sections based on temperature because we noticed a difference in our performance in these temperatures. 


So, lets start with down to 5 degrees F. 

Head: balaclava with a mil-type fleece watch cap under the helmet. 

Torso: Polypro undergarment, Mil-type Wooly, Fleece, then windproof Jacket (Additional layer could be Wool sweater between wooly and fleece)

Legs: Polypro undergarment, BDUs, Carhartt bibs (unlined)

Feet: Sock Liners, Wool Socks, Bunny Boots (Mil-type Arctic Boots, white). 

Hands: this was the most difficult part. Glove liners (knit) with leather lined gloves over worked well. 

The important part here is that most of our current USAR gear did not work well. However, it is important to ensure your outer layer is melt-resistant, i.e. NO Polys, Nylons or blends, including on the gloves. The Bunny Boots did not have steel toes and a good alternative is Baffin or LaCrosse Arctic work boots with steel toes. The USAR boots we have do not work well below about 15-20F. I would also recommend Ice Trekkers, YakTrax or some other anti-slip device for the boots. 


Below 5 degrees F for extended work times is a different animal altogether. 

In this case, we have to consider Arctic work wear with an FR rating. 

Body: Action Wear makes a pant and coat set that are FR that will easily protect to 40 below. 

Feet: Baffin, Sorel or LaCrosse Arctic work boots are absolutely necessary at these temps.

Hands: Gloves with disposable heater holders are necessary here, but are hard to find that are leather outer layered.


We hope our experience helps in your future cold weather deployments.


--Jack Reall

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