Why does it seem like we always end up landing jobs building a line at 9000-12000 feet elevation in a 15-20 mph sustained wind through two feet of snow in December? If it’s not that, it’s stringing fiber across the desert in 120 degree heat climbing steel that’s so hot it hurts to touch it, up there just praying for a slight breeze to take the edge off that piercing sun. It sure seems like it gets done backwards a lot. I know that it has to do with budgets and permits, and existing timelines, but we definitely end up in some extreme conditions working in this industry.
The trick is to be prepared. You have to have the right tools for the job if you are going to do it efficiently. If you are going in the snow or the mud, you need tracked vehicles. If you are working in a high risk fire zone, you need a water buffalo and the means to suppress an accidental fire.
Our FR clothing is no different. Sure, you can get away with about anything in 50-80 degree weather without compromising comfort, safety and performance. It’s when we end up at the other extremes that we really need to be prepared.
Luckily for everyone involved, there are products available, that have been engineered with these conditions in mind. Luckily there were FR clothing manufactures that were smart enough to notice what companies like Under Armour, NorthFace, Patagonia, and SmartWool were doing by blending engineered fabrics. Luckily, companies like Dragon Wear, Dri-Fire, and TECGEN took this idea of performance apparel and have brought it to our FR market. Not only does it make our work more comfortable, it makes it more safe, and more productive.
As summer quickly approaches, you want to be prepared. If you know you are going to end up on a job that is going to be hotter than two mice dancing in a wool sock and have you sweating like a crook in church, then be ready.
General Rules of Thumb for Summer Heat
- Pick the lightest fabric weight that meets your FR requirement.
- Go with the lightest colors. Black is hottest, white is coolest. Hi-Viz is a great choice because it reflects more heat back away from your body.
- Go with fabrics engineered to keep you cool. PowerDry from Dragon Wear is our favorite pullover, and the carbon based fabric from TECGEN is our favorite button up.
- Lastly, Dew Rags are a great way to keep your head cool under that hard hat where we don’t get any wind to cool our sweaty heads.
If you know you are going to end up dancing in the sock, make sure your prepared ahead of time. If you have never tried the high end gear, you don’t know what you’re missing. This stuff is a game changer. There is nothing worse than being miserable at work. It not only slows you down, it takes your head out of the game, and that is how accidents happen. The high end gear is more expensive, but in the long run, it pays for itself. You will be happier, more productive, and safer for choosing it!
Work Safe, Do Your Best, and Never Ignore Your Gut!