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The History of The Firefighter Uniform

5th May 2023


Depending on your age, you might have a memory of firefighters’ uniforms being dark – possibly with bright yellow leggings.

But have you ever wondered how they arrived at the beige colour widely in use today?

(Small pic of beige uniform such as)


Read on for a brief history of the changing designs over the years.

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 woollen serge tunic and trousers.

 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)

In 1974, the wool tunic stayed but the black rubber leggings were replaced with yellow ones, which helped with visibility in smoke filled rooms.

The first Nomex suit (1989 - 1999)

The first Nomex suit was introduced in 1989. This fabric offered far greater protection from the heat and flames of the fire and was waterproof. Nomex is a Du Pont fabric also used in racing driver suits.

The Inferno (1999 - 2010)

This maroon suit was more pliable and even more heat resistant than the previous ones. This allowed firefighters easier movement and the ability to stay in hot conditions for longer. It has three layers: fireproof, waterproof and thermal protection.

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The Ergotech Action (2010 - 2018)

This uniform was made of the lightest, most protective materials possible at the time. The design included many features to increase the comfort of firefighters, such as action pleats, shaped sleeves and knees.

Today's design (October 2018)


  • The light colour of the Titan 1260 fabric shows contamination better than the previous dark versions. This allows 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 uniforms, allows more movement and offers enhanced breathability and comfort.

Information courtesy of London Fire Brigade.

You can view the full story, and read about their work here: -

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