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Is Your Reflective Material Trim in Need of Repair? Look Out for These Signs

Firefighters put their lives on the line to protect our communities, facing various risks in their line of duty. To ensure your safety, it's crucial that your gear remains in top-notch condition. Reflective trim plays a significant role in enhancing visibility during firefighting operations. However, like any other equipment, wear and tear may occur over time, necessitating proper inspection and repairs. Here are some ways to tell when it’s time for replacement.

Wear Patterns

Buckling and lifting of segments in reflective material are relatively rare but can occur, especially during use in a fire. Other wear patterns may include corner damage or minor abrasions.

These patterns, along with buckles or minor lifting, may or may not require immediate repair. According to NFPA 1851 guidelines, the verified Independent Service Provider (ISP) has the discretion to determine whether these wear patterns need repair.

In cases where buckles or lifted segments are identified during routine service, we recommend re-laminating these segments. The process of re-lamination restores the reflective material's functionality and appearance, ensuring that it continues to serve its intended purpose effectively.

For larger buckles, re-lamination may create a hard wrinkle on the reflective material. Although this doesn't significantly affect reflectivity, your department might prefer to replace the affected segments entirely for aesthetic reasons.

Looking Ahead

It's essential that any repairs should be carried out in line with the requirements of NFPA 1851 and under the guidance of the garment manufacturer or a verified ISP.

The manufacturers of the gear and its components hold the final authority on the proper repair of wear or damage to the supplied gear.

Remember, safety is a shared responsibility, and properly maintained gear is a small but significant step in safeguarding those who protect us.



The Verified Independent Service Providers Association (VISPA) was created to provide fire departments and other emergency response organizations with an educational resource on the care and maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  Your PPE is your first line of defense and must provide you with sufficient protection during its service life. Our goal is to help you establish good practices to reduce the safety risks and potential health risks associated with poorly maintained, contaminated, and damaged PPE.  

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