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Life of Firesuits

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I work in the Merchant Navy as a Chief Officer. I am hoping that you can help me with a query I have. I have already asked a friend of mine who is a Firefighter but he couldn't help.

On my ship we have Firesuits that are old and I am hoping to change them. My issue, however, is that I can't find a lifespan for a Firesuit. I realise that being on ships means that the legislation and requirements are different, but I was hoping there was some sort of guide or best practice I could refer to. Would you know of any information that would cover my query?

Thanks, Sinclair

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The fire kit loses its resistance and capabilities over number of washes usually ours are replaced automatically by the company who supplies them (cosalt ballyclare) I'm not sure how they determine this though. I would have thought that being naval and probably subject to salt water/ atmosphere makes a difference.

Bristol and cosalt are the 2 main suppliers in the UK they maybe able to help.

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Over in NA most would look toward NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting for best practice.  I am not aware of the UK/EU equivalent standard, but perhaps there is a MOD/NATO/Mil-Spec/Mil-Std that is applicable.  (FWIW, it looks like the USAF references/defers to the NFPA standard)

That standard requires that structural turnout gear shall be retired when the garment is beyond repair and no longer able to pass an NFPA 1851 Advanced Inspection, or ten years from date of manufacture, whichever comes first.  For proximity clothing, reflective outer shells have a mandatory retirement date of five years from date of manufacture.

IIRC there is nothing in the standard about number of washes per sae, although obviously washing deteriorates the fabric(s) and could lead to earlier failure of the "Advanced Inspection".  For us this is also a business decision wrt, purchasing high end PPE to last ten years, vice low end or mid grade PPE that may need to be replaced in three, five, or seven years.

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Thank you for your replies. I will be contacting the manufacturers of the Suits to see if they have any information/recommendation about the lifespan of these suits. 


I had read that the US has a 10 year policy on replacing equipment, but I can't find the same for the UK. My friend in the Fire Brigade said their are replaced after damage or exposure to high temperature, which are both liable to be before any sort of life expectancy would be up I would assume.

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