Quality firefighter gloves should be approved by The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for their functions against various hazards in fire fighting situations.
It is common knowledge that structural firefighting gloves must be made of top-quality materials, mostly leather. Furthermore, there will be reinforcement such as knuckle paddings, extra coatings, double stitches, etc. As a result, it might take some time for the glove wearers to feel comfortable inside such a rigid and durable pair.
How to break in fire gloves so they’re less stiff? Here’re some of the best tips you can follow.
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What Can We Do to Break in Fire Gloves?
I got my Dragon Fire structural gloves, and they were a pain to wear right out of the box. Indeed, it is not the manufacturer’s fault. It is the same for most turnout gloves, baseball mitts, leather work gloves, etc.
Here’re some methods you can try to make them ready for comfortable wear when you are on duty:
1. Wear the gloves while driving
Wearing a pair of firefighter extrication gloves while driving around probably sounds weird to you. But it does work.
The thing is, to break in a pair of gloves, no matter what materials, wearing them is always the best method. Since you have to go on errands and probably spend a lot of time in your car, why not make use of it?
While driving, we can flex the gloves by gripping the steering wheel. In doing so, the gloves stretch a bit to fit around our knuckles, offering more and more flexibility.
That is how I managed to break in Dragon Fire gloves and a pair of leather shoes, while driving around and running errands, of course.
2. Dampen the gloves and wear them
This method works the best when your pair is made of leather. You can use a spray bottle to apply some clean water onto the material; just make sure the water is not too hot or too cold.
Then, let the moisture set in for a while. Make sure you do not soak the pair with water.
You can put the pair on for 20 minutes. Even though it is not the most comfortable thing for you to do, putting the gloves on while making a fist and flexing your fingers will be a huge help.
After the stretching time, you can take the gloves off and use some cloth clippers to hang them and let them dry naturally.
It is recommended to apply some leather conditioner onto the leather to soften the material a bit after the gloves are dry.
3. Massage the glove fingers
The line of fire gloves is super durable and strong, which contributes to the stiffness of the product. A thick reinforced liner can maintain the integrity of the gloves yet restricts our finger movements sometimes.
Therefore, it is essential for us to loosen the gloves a little, like we should do with most fire-resistant gloves, including welding pairs.
One of the commonly-applied methods is massaging the glove fingers. We can do so by spraying a little water or leather conditioner (if the gloves are made of leather) onto the finger areas.
Then, we can massage each glove’s fingers gently for 2 minutes, and stretch and bend them a little. We can also put the pair on afterward, try making a fist, and keep the hold for several more minutes.
Always remember to dry the gloves by hanging them in a well-ventilated area.
Can I Wash Fire Gloves to Break Them in?
Yes, you can. But make sure you use a spray bottle during the cleaning, since you do not want to soak your structural firefighter gloves in water. Also, make sure you choose a suitable turnout gloves (PPE) cleaner compatible with the materials.
Here’re some quick steps to guide you in case you want to wash the gloves to break them in:
- Mix the cleaning solution by adding clean water and turnout gloves cleaner in a ratio of 15:1
- Shake the solution inside the bottle sprayer, so the components mix well
- Spray the cleaning solution onto the gloves without soaking them
- Use your hand (advisably with a protective latex pair on) to work the cleaner into the glove material
- Use water to remove the lather after you are done washing the gloves
- Make sure you let the pair dry naturally
The guides above are essentially the best methods for how to break in fire gloves. You can pick one or use several of them if one is not enough to make your stiff pair soften and feel comfortable. Make sure to avoid extreme methods like subjecting the gloves to unnecessary high heat or boiling water out of frustration.
One piece of advice for you is to wear the pair, and it will get used to you. Anyway, if you find the article helpful, do not hesitate to share it with others. Thank you!
This is Edward Manning, the editor in chief of Construction Informer. Quite a bit of my time is spent researching the market and interviewing experts in the field so that I can give you reliable information.