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Best Firefighter Boots Reviewed & Rated for Performance

last updated Dec 12, 2018

For a firefighter, every day on the job presents a myriad of hazards. To be adequately protected from the constant dangers associated with this challenging profession, a highly-rated and well-manufactured pair of boots is required.

Firefighters need protection from high-temperatures and heat, rough terrain, slippery and wet conditions, punctures, falling debris, and more. It’s also essential that these boots allow for ease of movement and proper agility, so they don’t slow you down. A fireman needs to be able to move without hesitation as one split-second delay can mean the difference between a life or death situation.

Researched Sources
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Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1790
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
14
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Products Evaluated
17
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Ana Rockov:

The latest update to this article replaces two items with higher rated models made specifically for firefighters. Additionally, the entire article has been updated in terms of appearance, making it much easier to to find the most important information you need before making a purchase. Note that you can now also choose to sort models based on certain criterion, making it easier to find exactly what you're looking for.

Sorting Options
Upper Protection Outsole Weight Comfort By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
Upper
100%
Protection
100%
Outsole
100%
Weight
95%
Comfort
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$453.66
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Upper
97%
Protection
96%
Outsole
96%
Weight
97%
Comfort
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$345.25
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
Upper
93%
Protection
93%
Outsole
93%
Weight
97%
Comfort
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$75.99
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Upper
90%
Protection
91%
Outsole
92%
Weight
92%
Comfort
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$76.99
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Upper
91%
Protection
85%
Outsole
91%
Weight
92%
Comfort
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$84.95
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.2
Upper
79%
Protection
79%
Outsole
83%
Weight
94%
Comfort
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$125.99
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Upper
84%
Protection
82%
Outsole
84%
Weight
93%
Comfort
86%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$174.97
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Upper
82%
Protection
78%
Outsole
83%
Weight
91%
Comfort
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$119.99
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.4
Upper
77%
Protection
82%
Outsole
87%
Weight
87%
Comfort
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$257.99
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.6
Upper
84%
Protection
83%
Outsole
78%
Weight
80%
Comfort
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$134.95
In Depth Review Top 10
  • HAIX Fire Hero Xtreme
  • Danner Wildland Tactical
  • Bates Ultra-Lites
  • Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0
  • Under Armour Stellar
  • Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air
  • Danner Striker II EMS
  • 5.11 Company 2.0
  • Danner Acadia
  • Bates DuraShocks
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Firefighter Boots

1. HAIX Fire Hero Xtreme

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
HAIX Fire Hero Xtreme
Upper
100
Protection
100
Outsole
100
Weight
95
Comfort
98
best offer for today
$453.66
Pros:

Sun Reflect Leather Upper

Injected PU Shock Absorption and Insulation

Ankle Flex System

Ladder Shank

Waterproof and Breathable

Cons:

Expensive

Engineered in Germany, the HAIX Fire Hero Xtreme is a bunker boot that any professional out there wishes they had. Not only is it 100% focused on providing protection, taking into consideration all aspects of the job, but it’s also made to be comfortable, easy to put on and off, as well as with the intention of giving you full range of movement. This way, you can focus on your tasks, knowing that you’ve got the support of one of the best pairs of firefighter boots available.

Read more

Fire 01 Sole
Made to be extremely slip resistant in any conditions, the outsole on the Fire Hero Xtreme features a self-cleaning honeycomb pattern with suction cups to keep your footing safe. Additionally, you will benefit from the ladder bar treads in the joint area, as well as the fact that this is a sole resistant to oil and fuel.

Injected Polyurethane
A layer of polyurethane is injected into the outsole, and serves two purposes. One is to provide you with the necessary shock absorption you need during long days, while the second is to protect you both from extreme heat and cold radiating from down below.

Cost and Value
With an extremely high price, you probably won’t be deciding to purchase this pair of boots just to wear them around the ranch - they’re made for professional firefighters who require puncture resistant footwear with some of the best protective features out there, and this means a high price that’s too steep for most. Nonetheless, if you want the best and nothing but, the HAIX Fire Hero Xtreme is definitely the way to go.

2. Danner Wildland Tactical

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Danner Wildland Tactical
Upper
97
Protection
96
Outsole
96
Weight
97
Comfort
94
best offer for today
$345.25
Pros:

Fire Resistant Leather Upper

Vibram S587 Fire & Ice Outsole

Ortholite Footbed

Steel Shank

Mesh Lining

Cons:

Low Quality Laces

Outsole Durability

The Danner Wildland Tactical provides the perfect balance between a hiking model that provides cushioning and support, and an NFPA-certified boot developed to protect the wearer from any complication that comes with a job. It comes in a large number of sizes, as well as three widths, meaning that almost anyone can purchase this model and reap its benefits. Handcrafted in Portland, Oregon, this is definitely a great investment for any professional, but also those who are looking for NFPA-certified protective footwear.

Read more

Fire Resistant
The leather upper of the Wildland Tactical has been chemically treated to deter flames, while still giving you a comfortable and durable pair of shoes. The outsole is made by Vibram, and was made for rugged and high-angle terrain. It’ll provide you with great traction both in extreme cold and hot conditions, making this a versatile boot.

Comfortable & Supportive
Made to mimic the fit of hiking boots, the Wildland Tactical will provide you with the arch support and cushioning you need when you’re out on a job and can’t afford to be distracted by uncomfortable shoes. The footbed is made by Ortholite, featuring their popular and well-loved cushioning, while a steel shank adds additional stability, as well as an extra layer of protection underfoot.

Cost and Value
Not the most expensive pair of footwear on this list, the Danner Wildland Tactical still boasts a steep price that may be too much for a number of people. It’s made by a reputable company, using relevant technologies, and has passed certification for use by firefighters.

3. Bates Ultra-Lites

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.4
Bates Ultra-Lites
Upper
93
Protection
93
Outsole
93
Weight
97
Comfort
96
best offer for today
$75.99
Pros:

Removable EVA Insole

Lightweight and Comfortable

Made from Ballistic Nylon

Slip-resistant Outsole

Cons:

Lace Durability

When the alarm sounds and the station becomes a teeming swirl of action, firefighters need a firefighter boot that is easily removable so that they can get into their protective wear as quickly as possible. The Bates Ultra-Lites 8 Inches Tactical Sports Side-Zip allow for the most efficient way of managing this, all while being a sturdy, rugged tactical boot made out of high-quality materials and featuring slip-resistant outsoles.

Read more

Functionality
High top work boots have the benefit of providing security and stability to the wearer’s ankle. A lace-up vamp and breathable lining make the Bates Ultra-Lites a high top work boot that is as stabilizing as it is comfortable. Its rubber sole and durable, slip resistant outsole make it perfect for the times when duty calls and every second count. They are also constructed of ballistic nylon so that they can take a beating.

Versatility
The Bates Ultra-Lites have a cushioned insert that is removable, making them uniquely modifiable depending on the surrounding temperature. For those that need it, the removable EVA footbed has shock absorbing pads and helps alleviate joint pressure. The rubber outsole is also 30% lighter than previous incarnations of tactical boots in the series, allowing for efficient movement in an environment that often demands a change of direction at a moment’s notice.

Cost and Value
The Bates brand is known for performance, durability, and quality. Their ballistic nylon construction, removable insoles, and light feel all in a classic tactical boot package give them the edge over the competition and make them the most in-demand firefighter boots at the station. For the great features you get with their product, they’re definitely worth the expense.

4. Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0
Upper
90
Protection
91
Outsole
92
Weight
92
Comfort
93
best offer for today
$76.99
Pros:

Removable EVA Insole

Non-slip Outsole

Steel Shank

Affordable

Cons:

Non-certified

Like Under Armour, the Smith & Wesson brand is associated with excellence and quality. Branching out beyond the firearm industry, they have created a tactical boot that sets the standard for quality, durability, and affordability. Like the previous tactical boots mentioned, they are constructed of fine leather and nylon, as well as having a removable EVA insole. Where they differ is the addition of a steel shank in the midsole for support, and a gusseted tongue to keep debris out of the interior.

Read more

Functionality
The rubber outsole is a unique design that prevents loss of traction on a wide variety of surfaces such as concrete, metal, wood, wax, and brick. This makes it perfect for the firefighter that has to quickly ascend a ladder or run through a building interior where smoke may be obscuring their vision. Not having to worry about whether or not your boots will be able to keep your feet firmly planted in a life or death situation means a firefighter can keep their focus on subduing any calamity.

Durability
The Breach 2.0’s consist of high-quality leather and nylon on the outside, with an interior of board-lasted construction that prevents foot fatigue and helps hold up the structural integrity of the boot. Unlike the Bates’ brand of firefighter boot, they have YKK side zippers, which last much longer.

Cost and Value
It was important for Smith and Wesson to bring a boot to the market that was less expensive than its competition but didn’t sacrifice any features. It also needed to uphold the Smith and Wesson brand standard for excellence and quality. The Breach 2.0, with the familiar features of other firefighter boots (like removable EVA insoles, leather and nylon construction, and nonslip outsoles), also contributed innovations like the introduction of steel shanks for added support and a gusseted tongue to keep dirt and debris out. For a high top boot of superior quality, you can’t beat it’s value and price point.

5. Under Armour Stellar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Under Armour Stellar
Upper
91
Protection
85
Outsole
91
Weight
92
Comfort
95
best offer for today
$84.95
Pros:

Lightweight

Waterproof

Treated Leather and 900D Nylon Upper

Comfort of an Athletic Shoe

Cons:

No Side Zipper

Under Armour is a name synonymous with high impact interval training and high powered workouts; a titan in the fitness clothing industry. The Under Armour Stellar Tactical boot upholds the standard of excellence associated with the Under Armour brand by providing a boot that is lightweight, durable, and comfortable. They are a boot that feels more like an athletic shoe, giving them an added level of versatility beyond a typical high top tactical boot.

Read more

Durability
Waterproof and made from DWR treated leather and 900D nylon, the Under Armour Stellar Tactical boots have toes that can be polished so that after the beating they take hour after hour, day after day, any scuffs can be easily removed. The hardy material of their construction combined with durable rubber soles make them fit for a wide variety of terrain and environments.

Comfort
If you’re on concrete floors for 10 hours a day, these boots will save your feet. The dense station floor will no longer leave you needing a long soak after a long shift. They’re lightweight and well padded, the tongue having the cushion of a basketball shoe. The feel of an athletic shoe makes you forget you’re wearing tactical boots at all.

Cost and Value
Some wearers may feel that for the price of a high top model, they’re not getting as much boot with the Under Armour Stellar Tactical. What they lack in height or bulk they make up for in durable materials, lightweight construction, and comfort that feels more like an athletic shoe than a boot. Some wearers may prefer a low ankle boot as opposed to a high top, and Under Armour is the best choice.

6. Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.2
Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air
Upper
79
Protection
79
Outsole
83
Weight
94
Comfort
96
best offer for today
$125.99
Pros:

3-ply Nylon Double-stitched Upper

Athletic Footwear Feel

Airport-friendly Nylon Shank

Custom-molded Phylon EVA Midsole

Cons:

Runs Large

Like Under Armour Stellar tactical boots, Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air’s are a tactical boot that feels like you’re slipping on a running shoe. One of the best boots for urban law enforcement and first responders working long shifts, they provide the stability and features of a high top boot with the added comfort of athletic footwear. They sport EVA midsoles, an airport friendly nylon shank for added support, and a uniquely visible “air cell” in the heel that absorbs impact.

Read more

Durability
Since they have a double stitched upper of 3-ply bonded nylon thread, they won’t start breaking apart at the seams the way other high top boots can after the first few months of wear. The majority of their construction is made of leather, which can with a little help be polished to a shine, ensuring that they can always be made to look their best even after repeated wear.

Functionality
The custom molded phylon EVA midsole gives extra support and comfort, so even after being worn for long hours, your feet won’t feel fatigued. Unlike Smith and Wesson boots that have a steel shank inserted into their construction for added support, the nylon shanks inserted into the Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air’s are airport friendly and provide as much comfort and stability.

Cost and Value
Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air’s are incredibly affordable for all their features, most notably that they are a high top tactical boot that feels like a running shoe. The 3-ply bonded nylon upper, and leather construction makes them durable, while the molded EVA midsole and airport friendly nylon shank make them superior performers in comfort and stability. Polished up to a high shine, these boots will make quite the impression.

7. Danner Striker II EMS

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Danner Striker II EMS
Upper
84
Protection
82
Outsole
84
Weight
93
Comfort
86
best offer for today
$174.97
Pros:

Spill-resistant

Slip-resistant

Removable Foam Insert

Cross Tech Lining

Puncture-resistant

Cons:

Slightly Expensive

The Danner Strike II EMS is designed with first responders in mind, providing them superior penetration protection from the fluids in their environment and any harmful chemicals. They are made from full grain leather and designed for maneuverability, safety, and durability. It has all the best benefits of a high top boot of its class, with durable traction that spans heel to toe, a sturdy side zipper, an outsole that is spill and slip resistant, a removable footbed, and a nylon shank to provide support and stability on long shifts.

Read more

Functionality
Water, organic oils, bodily fluids, and blood are no match for the Cross Tech fabric of these boots, engineered to withstand all manner of hazardous waste. Their Gore-Tex leather is not only tough and durable, but it can also be polished to a high shine, which is preferable when you want your boots cleaned quickly. A Terra Force X Lite provides great traction and transfer of energy, and the nylon shank in the toe cap is non-metallic and thus easily maneuvered through metal based security systems.

Comfort
Not all high top tactical boots have a padded tongue and collar, but the presence of these features on the Danner Striker II EMS boot certainly makes them more comfortable as a result. Cross Tech fabric designed to provide penetration resistance also provides maximum breathability. The X Lite platform provides lightweight and durable traction, while the TFX Lite outsole gives you protection from foot fatigue. The lightweight non-metallic Pro-Tec toe cap resists the conduction of heat and cold.

Cost and Value
The Danner Striker EMS II boot is easily one of the most expensive tactical boots on the market. With its full grain leather and cross tech construction, engineered for superior penetration protection from hazardous wastes, and its TFX Lite outsoles that provide traction and prevent foot fatigue, it’s not hard to see why. The added benefit of having a protective toe cap that resists the conduction of heat and cold puts it in a league of its own. It is a quality investment in safety, comfort, and durability.

8. 5.11 Company 2.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
5. 5.11 Company 2.0
Upper
82
Protection
78
Outsole
83
Weight
91
Comfort
90
best offer for today
$119.99
Pros:

Oil-resistant, Multi-directional Tread

OrthoLite Sockliner

Climbing Lugs

Anti-bacterial Lining

Cons:

Not Waterproof

To some firefighters and first responders, being able to get out of their footwear and into their fire protective gear quickly is almost more important than any of the footwears’ other features. Never is this more easily done than with a slip on boot like the 5.11 Company 2.0. It features top of the line full grain leather, a synthetic sole, and a number of features that make it incredibly easy to pull on and slip off. It’s even oil and slick resistant, which is a feature previously only seen in high top boots

Read more

Functionality
Though a small boot, it can still play with the big boots and hold its own. It’s leather, and synthetic construction is lightweight yet sturdy, and a “Quick Call” collar and kick plate make it easy to pull on or slip off. Its outsole is oil resistant, and its multi-directional tread provides excellent traction on slick surfaces. It has built-in climbing lugs which make it extremely good for scaling buildings and climbing ladders.

Comfort
Like the Smith and Wesson Breach 2.0, it has an injection molded Phylon EVA midsole, making it padded for comfort and providing extra cushion. It also has an antibacterial and moisture wicking liner to keep feet dry, cool, and itch-free, as well as an OrthoLite sockliner.

Cost and Value
The 5.11 Company 2.0 has a more professional profile than it’s high top tactical boot brethren. The fact that it can be easily removed or slipped on makes it great for first responders that need to change into protective gear in a hurry. It's designed materials make it slightly more expensive, but the added features such as oil resistant multi-directional tread, climbing lugs, and the presence of an OrthoLite sockliner set it apart from similar boots of its style.

9. Danner Acadia

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.4
Danner Acadia
Upper
77
Protection
82
Outsole
87
Weight
87
Comfort
89
best offer for today
$257.99
Pros:

GORE-TEX® Lining

1000 Denier Nylon/Full-grain Leather Upper

Vibram® Kletterlift Outsole

Stitchdown Construction

Wet/Dry Surface Traction

Cons:

Break-in Period

Waterproof GORE-TEX® linings work to keep your feet dry during those precious moments when you need to concentrate on the job at hand. In addition, the upper is durable with the 1000 denier nylon and full-grain leather combination. The Vibram® Kletterlift outsole handles well on both wet and dry surface types. Furthermore, with the stitch-down construction, you can be certain these will last for years to come.

Read more

Tough Upper
With 1000 denier nylon and full-grain leather, you cannot go wrong with this tough-as-nails pair of boots, so to speak. The upper is durable and should last for years.

Wet/Dry Surface Traction
This is a rather important attribute to have in firefighter footwear. In addition to giving you stable traction on both wet and dry surfaces, the Vibram® Kletterlift outsole is thick and sturdy, as well.

Cost and Value
This footwear is at the high end of cost association when compared to the rest of this list. These are made for tough situations, and as such, they are built tough. Made with excellent components and technologies, this is a pair you want to add to your firefighter gear.

10. Bates DuraShocks

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.6
Bates DuraShocks
Upper
84
Protection
83
Outsole
78
Weight
80
Comfort
88
best offer for today
$134.95
Pros:

Leather/Nylon Upper

Nylon Side Zip

Rubber Outsole

Bates Durashocks Technology

Stitch-out Welt Construction

Cons:

Stiff Laces

The heel and forefoot area have shock-absorbing pads which help to transfer energy. This, in turn, aids in giving you a day in comfort. In addition, the upper is made with leather and ballistic nylon; perfect for situations requiring heavy-duty action. A nylon side zipper makes for easy on and off and the rubber outsole is slip-resistant. These are, also, metallic-free and are undetectable in electronic environments.

Read more

Ballistic Nylon Upper
This pair is one tough set of footwear. Made with leather and ballistic nylon in the upper, these are sure to last, even in the toughest of environments.

Bates Durashocks Technology
Comfort is important, as we all know. With this technology, the forefoot and heel areas have shock-absorbing pads to help transfer energy and, thus, lower load-rate.

Cost and Value
These are budget-friendly when compared to others on this list. Furthermore, they are made with high-quality materials and utilize stitch-out welt construction. They will last, in terms of performance and durability. Moreover, they are worth the purchase price.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Upper

While it’s true that firefighter boots need to stand up to high temperatures, it helps if they have a certain level of breathability built into their construction. Firefighters and first responders are depending on boots that are made from materials that can withstand high heat but also not retain it. This means that along with leather and other fabric choices that comprise their design, they might even have some mesh weave or insole technology that makes sure heat doesn’t get trapped inside the boot. Some of the best fabrics and materials to withstand high-temperatures are:

  • Leather
  • Rubber
  • Steel
  • Composites
  • Aluminum
  •  

    While some of these materials will resist fire naturally, most will be chemically treated to improve their heat resistance. Both the upper and the outsole should perform well in extremely hot conditions, but should also be able to perform at the same level should the temperature outside be cold.

    Professionals should always look to get NFPA-certified boots as these have been proven to provide adequate temperature protection and regulation to be worn on the job.

    According to performance standards, the inside surface of your insoles should never exceed 111F. This means that you should look for breathable linings in your boots. This way you'll get both an added level of breathability and moisture control, as well as a shoe that won't become odorous after a few weeks.

    Protection

    Fighting fires brings first responders in contact with hazardous conditions. Protection against flames is just one aspect of combating them when extreme high heat can melt metal pipes, make trees crack and explode, and warp concrete. Therefore, firefighters often favor a tall boot versus a short boot for extra protection along their calves, made from materials like the Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0’s ballistic nylon, and midsoles that are puncture and penetration resistant.

    Any metal components to their construction, like steel midsoles or steel toes, need to be resistant to corrosion at high temperatures so that they can remain functional. Wildlife firefighters may even want a gusseted tongue to keep falling debris out of the interior of their boots, and reliable traction if their environment is uneven, rocky, or precarious.

    In extreme conditions with the presence of different types of fluid, slip-resistant outsoles protect against oil, grease, pathogens, and other unusual substances that might impair a firefighter’s footing. Boots like the Danner Striker II EMS provides superior penetration protection from the fluids in their environment and any harmful chemicals. They’re designed for maneuverability and safety with Cross Tech fabric that was engineered to withstand hazardous waste.

    Protective toe caps are also an essential aspect of a firefighters boot and are essential for protecting the delicate area surrounding the toes. There are several materials used to produce a toe cap including:

  • Steel: Steel toe caps offer excellent protection but can be heavier than other materials used, weighing in at between 80 to 90 grams. These type of toe caps are best suited for use in standard work footwear as they can be too heavy for use in sport styled footwear or for individuals who need to be quick on their feet while working.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum, or alloy, toe caps mimic the resistance and strength of a steel toe but weigh in around 30 to 50 percent lighter. Aluminum toe caps are thin and do not add any extra bulk to a workboot.  The only downside to this type of safety toe cap is that it lacks in thermal insulating.
  • Plastic: Plastic toe caps are a chunky composite style of toe cap that is not the best suggestion for use in heat-resistant boots as there is a chance of the plastic melting under high-heat conditions.
  • Composite: Composite toe caps are made without the use of metal materials and are made from either carbon fiber or fiberglass. Composites are suitable for firefighters boots because they offer superior thermal insulation and are highly effective against extreme hot or cold temperatures. The only downfall of these types of toe cap is that they are more costly than other materials.
  • Outsole

    From descending sides of mountains to scurrying up ladders leaned against skyscrapers and apartment units, a firefighter never knows what hazards their terrain will bring. All firefighters will want sturdy boots with great traction, durable traction that is skid and slip resistant, as well as a component in the midsole like a steel or nylon shank that stabilizes the footbed. They should also be waterproof and made from treated leather and nylon, like Under Armour’s Stellar Tactical boots. When the waterproof layer covers the entire boot and not just the fabric portion, it ensures a tight seal against moisture (though some brands have built-in moisture wicking lining). This sort of footwear protection is ideal for when a firefighter is surrounded by the several tons of water needed to put out a fire, encounters muddy conditions, or is simply hosing off their boots after their shift.

    Common features to expect on wildfire firefighter boots

  • Water resistant/waterproof materials
  • Flex cracking resistance - puncture resistance construction that ensures no portions of the boot will suffer flex cracking under stress
  • Toe impact resistant materials
  • Electricity resistance design
  • Soles, heels, and uppers designed to be puncture resistant
  •  

    Common features to expect on station firefighter boots

  • It has built-in climbing lugs which make it extremely good for scaling buildings
  • Ladder shanks for ascending and descending ladders
  • Materials, especially along the seams and uppers, designed to be resistant to pathogens
  • Materials that prevent liquids from penetrating the fabric
  • Materials designed to be flame resistant
  • Traction and grip on the soles to be slip and skid resistant
  • A thread that is resistant to heat and won’t char or fray
  • Materials that are resistant to oils, animal fats, and other oleaginous substances
  •  

    Traction

    Because firefighters can face a high number of unknown variables when it comes to their environments, having the reliability of superior traction and grip means that they can spring into action without worrying about their footing being jeopardized.

    Boots that have rubber outsoles prevent loss of traction on a wide variety of surfaces, such as:

  • Concrete
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Dirt
  • Mud
  • Rock
  • This means that whatever their environment is comprised of, the only focus the responder needs is on containing the situation and not on keeping your footing sure. Excellent traction and grip also mean that if a firefighter has to quickly ascend a ladder or run through a building interior, they won’t lose their bearing even if smoke may be obscuring their vision.

    Weight

    Not all firefighter boots weigh the same, despite many of them having similar properties. Firefighters who combat wildfires usually want heavier, thicker boots because of debris and contact with the elements, whereas those in urban environments or around the station want boots that are lighter and slightly more maneuverable.

    Boots made by 5.11, Inc, Bates, or Rocky weigh in the vicinity of 5 pounds, usually attributed to the addition of steel instead of nylon shanks in the midsole, more rubber along the outsole and sole, and more practical hardware. Original S.W.A.T. and brands that make boots that fit and feel more like athletic shoes tend to be a lot lighter, somewhere in the vicinity of 2-3 pounds, which allows for efficiency of movement when you have to change direction at a moment’s notice. Heavier boots also mean more work for the firefighter, who is already laden down with heavy gear, oxygen tanks, and has to still concern themselves with moving debris in extreme heat. Some of the lightest materials used in the construction of a firefighter boot are:

  • Leather
  • Rubber
  • Kevlar
  • Teflon
  • Carbon Composites
  • Nitrile
  • Comfort

    Comfort plays a critical role in the selection of a firefighter boot because most firefighters will be working long hours while standing on their feet, ducking, and crawling. Features like a hypertext lasting board and cushioned insoles provide enduring comfort, and when they wear out, they can be replaced.

    Generous open cell foam cushioning that run the entire length of the footbed and collar ensure that no matter how long you have to be on your feet and what surface, they won’t feel fatigued. Padded tongues and collars provide a glove-like fit around your foot, as well as prevent ankle chafing over time. A lightweight Pro-Tec toe cap that resists the conduction of heat and cold means a firefighter can enjoy a regulated temperature inside their boot. A lightweight boot with less hardware can also mean less foot fatigue and less wear and tear on a firefighter’s joints and muscles.

    Shock Absorption

    Shock absorption is an aspect of the firefighter boot that wasn’t always a prominent feature, especially when firefighter boots were simple rubber slip-on boots that looked more like rain gear. Adequate shock-absorption is a crucial part of maintaining the health of our feet, legs, knees, hips, and back, if these areas are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity shock waves, they begin to deteriorate and will cause all sorts of aches and pains. 

    It has now become a significant part of the overall design and construction because of its protection of a firefighter’s joints. Shock Mitigation systems of shock absorbent padding mean long-lasting joint health, while brands like Original S.W.A.T have put “air cells” in the heel of their boots that absorbs impact. Almost all modern firefighter boots have removable EVA footbeds with shock-absorbing pads, just like running shoes.

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    Tips For Becoming A Firefighter

    If you're interested in becoming a firefighter, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted.
    First and foremost, you'll need to meet minimum requirements by getting your GED, and even go a bit further to become an EMT.
    Getting state entry level certifications will improve your chances as well, and keeping yourself fit, healthy, and involved in the community will show your serious about yourself, and helping others.
    Lastly, you'll have to pass a written exam, and most likely a psychological evaluation, so prepare yourself as best you can!

    Home Safety

    During a fire, a firefighters priorities are many, including putting out a fire they must try to make sure others are out of harm's way.
    You can help prevent fires in your own home simply by having a few key things on hand.
    Smoke detectors are vial to alerting you of smoke, and potential fires, so be sure batteries are replaced regularly to ensure they work.
    Having a small fire extinguisher in the house can be a great method of prevention, easily stored somewhere you can access quickly.
    Lastly, have a plan. Discuss with your family what you would do in case of a fire, what steps you would take, and how you would find each other to get out safely. This is your best weapon against fires!

    Other Factors to Consider

    Flexibility

    Since firefighters are often on their feet for long periods of time in varying terrain, it’s important for their boots to be flexible and have a lot of energy return. The degree of flexibility can vary, as some first responders will want a boot that fits tight against the foot and doesn’t leave a lot of room for bending so that the structural integrity won’t be compromised.

    But if there’s no flexibility at all, and a boot can’t respond with the appropriate celerity the situation calls for, a firefighter might become injured. With a high amount of energy return, there’s less of a chance of foot fatigue and joint pain. Rubber boots, like Viking Footwear’s Firefighter WP, are ultra flexible, exceeding a 305,000 flex rating, which allows them to move with the motions of your feet and still provide incredible arch support, ankle support, and energy return.

    Fit

    Having an ill-fitting boot puts a firefighter at a greater risk for injuries, as the propensity for a firefighter to trip while in their gear is high. Not even taking into consideration downed trees, power lines, rubble, or the blurred vision that a firefighter might be facing at any given call, a clunky, loose boot is just one more thing that they don’t want to have to deal with.

    That’s why so many brands now offer slip-on, bucket boots with stirrups, side zips, front zips, and a combination of laces. This allows a first responder to be able to customize the fit of their boot, by tightening or loosening one of the closure features at their discretion. Some modern manufacturers have even implemented standards like a double-stitched upper of 3-ply bonded nylon thread, that won’t start breaking apart at the seams the way other boots can after only a few months of being worn.

    When fitting your footwear, ensure that you choose the end of your workday, as this is the time when your feet will be at the largest. In addition, you need ample room in the toe box for toe splaying. There are times when heavy lifting may be involved and the last thing you want is a cramped toe room area. Be careful, however, that it is not too roomy, per se. That is, you don’t want your toes slamming into the front of your boots after coming to a sudden stop during a run.

    Consider the volume, as well. Depending on your foot type and conditions, thereof, you may need to add an orthotic to ensure better overall foot health and stability. Removable insoles are a plus, in this regard.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    q: What’s the difference between wildfire firefighters boots and station firefighter boots?
    a:

    While both the boots used to fight wildfires and those used around the station share many of the same features, where they differ tends to be in those areas that are dictated by the sort of environment they’re most often in. To fight wildfires, heavier boots are often favored because the more weight put into areas like the soles, outsoles, steel toes and midsoles shanks, the more durable they are. As the elements wear them down potentially more than station boots, they have to be able to withstand drastically varying temperatures, wind currents, rock slides, etc. Wildlife firefighter boots will often be taller, with more protection around the calf and shin, and be made from fine quality leather over rubber.

    Station firefighters may find themselves climbing ladders, stairs, and so forth. As such, this footwear will tend to be lighter. This is to ensure you don’t become too exhausted during the climbs, especially in situations where you might find yourself in dire and urgent situations. The last thing you want is to tire down too quickly when there are two more flights of stairs to cover, so to speak.

    q: Are there specific standards for all firefighter boots?
    a:

    Specifications of firefighter boot standards fall under the requirements in the NFPA 1977 Protective Footwear for Wildland Fire Fighting 2005 31DR Edition. They must be at least 10 inches high, measuring from the inside of the boot to the highest point of the boot where there technically continues to be liquid protection. There is also a range of heel breast angle allowed, between the heel and the sole. The NFPA requires a wide variety of sizes be made available to first responders to prevent discomfort and injury from ill-fitting boots. They are field tested by firefighters through wear trials, one of the best ways to get an accurate assessment of their durability and functionality. They measure the ease by which a firefighter can get through standard hazards or obstacles, and with what degree of difficulty.

    q: What brand of firefighter boots is the toughest?
    a:

    Because firefighters face a variety of hazards in a plethora of different environments, there is no boot considered the toughest. Many have specific features for specific types of terrain and conditions, and therefore can’t be measured in the same way. However, there are specific features such as side zippers for easily getting them on and off, removable EVA foam insoles for maximum comfort and the reduction of foot fatigue, a shank in the midsole for arch support and stability, and many are steel-toed or water resistant. But they do come in a variety of heights, with a variety of closures, and in a variety of aesthetic styles, colors, and weights. The upper is likely to be made of ballistic nylon and leather. This helps to ensure a toughness factor, as it were. This is an ideal material combination and can, also, serve to lengthen the associated longevity, as well.

    q: Which is better: a nylon or metal shank in the midsole?
    a:

    A shank in the midsole is helpful for arch support and also the structural integrity of the boot, providing stiffness along the footbed in front of the heel. A non-metallic nylon shank makes it easy for a first responder to get through metallic based security access points and is less prone to corrosion than a steel shank. A steel shank is superior at resistance in field tests, however. Again, this is one of those situations in where your environment will dictate the proper features. As such, the most common environment you face should be the guide ruler you use to choose between a nylon and steel shank.

    q: How long do firefighter boots last?
    a:

    Because firefighter boots take a beating over time, and that various elemental and physical factors cause them to wear down, there are critical features put in place to prevent this from happening. They are designed with corrosion and penetration resistant materials, as well as waterproof exteriors and protection against viscous liquids like oils, fats, waxes, and even human-born pathogens. That being said, they will wear down over time, but a quality, durable firefighter boot should last you several years, where the only aspect you have to replace is the insole every few months. Also, the amount of action you see will determine the speed rate at which your footwear breaks down. For rural areas, some firefighters may only see action a few times a week; whereas, in urban areas, these men and women could be sent out repetitively in a single day.