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How to select materials for specialty garments

No matter what job someone does, they need to have the tools to perform their duty as efficiently and safely as possible. Many occupations come with certain amounts of risk that require more protection daily than other professions.

Most accountants wouldn’t go to work on a typical day dressed in fire-retardant clothing, after all. There are different standards, levels of appropriateness and protocols for the tools we bring to a job and how we dress for the occasion.

Some jobs require specific codes of dress. Fabric and materials used for these specialized garments have to meet certain requirements to be functional out in the field. These standards vary depending on the profession, but they all must ensure the person wearing them is as unharmed as possible at the end of their workday.

Police

When it comes to those on the police force, there’s the everyday uniform and then there’s tactical gear. Both are for totally different uses, but they do have a couple of similarities.

materials for specialty garments
Figure 1: Tactical uniforms provide wearability for many situations for officer safety and life-saving situations. Courtesy: www.pexels.com

First, their professional ensembles are almost always a blue or dark navy color so the public can quickly identify a police officer on duty if the need arose. Second, they have identifying information somewhere on their person. The divide between traditional and tactical, though, goes further than that.

Traditional or Class A uniforms are what people usually see a local police officer wearing while on duty. This ensemble includes a dress shirt and pants with sharp creases and laced black shoes.

Sometimes they wear an eight-point or round hat. This uniform is comfortable, professional attire that sends a positive message to the public. Though it’s difficult to prepare for every situation, officers should also be able to comfortably reach for any gear they need.

The tactical or Class B uniforms are usually only worn during dangerous operations, but this isn’t always the case. This gear includes cargo pants with a battle- or tactical-dress-uniform shirt that has no creases or signs of ironing.

Boots are worn, while the hat is usually a baseball cap or combat helmet. This uniform is more practical, allowing the officer to carry more essential gear. However, they’re more intimidating and concerning in the public eye. Coupled with a bullet-proof vest, the primary purpose of this uniform is to protect the wearer, so strong fabrics are essential.

Firefighters

A firefighter’s uniform is meant to protect against both fire and many other hazards. The clothing must be fire-resistant while also being sturdy enough to protect against crumbling buildings and similar harsh environments.

Firefighters specialty garments
Figure 2: A firefighter’s uniform is must be fire-resistant. Courtesy: www.pexels.com

Plus, firefighters must carry around many pounds of equipment. Their fire-resistant clothing should be primarily made out of modacrylic, Nomex or Kevlar to have enough strength.

Firefighters can usually be picked out of a crowd by their long orange and yellow jackets, but this uniform isn’t the safest in all situations. To be prepared for severe environments, they have to wear what’s called bunker or turnout gear.

It is made out of a metallic silver material to reflect light and is packed with various layers for these extreme conditions. The uniform must protect the firefighters from serious levels of heat and molten metal while allowing air to transfer, preventing moisture buildup and enabling the wearer to move freely.

Astronauts

Space is a unique environment that can only be simulated artificially on Earth. The unpredictability of space is very hard to recreate.

Luckily, humankind has had a few decades to advance astronauts’ clothing. While there has been a lot of changes to what is worn in spacecraft, astronauts and cosmonauts in the International Space Station (ISS) typically wear polo shirts, slacks and comfortable shoes.

astronaut specialty garments
Figure 3: the extravehicular mobility suit (EMU) or the space suits protects astronauts from the unpredictability of space. Courtesy: www.pexels.com

When they leave the safety of the station or craft, though, they all have to wear the extravehicular mobility suit (EMU). These are the bulky, white suits that have become so famous and associated with space travel.

They have 14 different layers, including liquid cooling ventilation for temperature, bladder layer to maintain pressure, ripstop layer to resist tears, mylar layers for insulation, and the final white layer made of Kevlar and two other fabrics for water- and fire-resistance.

The right tools for the job

For any job to be successful, the right tools are a requirement. This includes the clothes people wear to work. Everyone has to dress appropriately for the environment they plan to be in, whether that’s a burning building or beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Thankfully, there are natural and synthetic materials to face nearly every obstacle.

It’s vital to take into account what sort of environment someone is expecting. Temperature, moisture, hostilities, hazards and even the lack of breathable air can change what sort of materials are used in uniforms. Regardless, while comfort and maneuverability are important, safety should always be the main concern.

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