74). This is important because brand new equipment, gear and clothing should provide optimum capability for whatever purpose it was designed for. It is quite dangerous, however, that these gears are not subjected to more tests as they age after numerous use, which forces fire fighting organizations to either purchase new fire protective gears after a particular period of time or when they believe that the equipment has already surpassed its usability and efficiency.
While some organizations who do not have ample funding from government may opt to make do with what they have even if there gears and protective clothing is in a state of questionable efficiency and usability. This situation may also prove to be a catalyst for the important change in the history of protective gear and clothing used in fire fighting, especially if this particular discrepancy is acted upon with new policies that address the problem of efficiency and reliability of old and used protective gear and clothing.
As performance of this clothing can deteriorate over its useful lifetime, there is a need to develop methods to determine when fire departments should retire their gear (Yarborough, 2005, p. 74). But the presence of tests and examinations nonetheless are important points in the manufacturing and use of fire fighting clothing and gears. These examinations and quality tests through the years have become an important aspect in the creation of fire protection clothing and gear.
This action guarantees fire fighters and fire officials that what the government regulates its fire fighters to wear are actually proven safe and effective and will contribute to the safety assurance of the lives of the fire figthers during fire fighting operations. These examinations test different protective gears and clothing, submit it to real, brutal and worse case scenario situations to see how it responds and how it affects the person wearing it, at the same time allowing the investigators to see the areas of improvement for these particular fire protection clothing and gear.
Without these examinations and measures designed to regulate the design and use of fire protection gears and clothing, fire fighters do not know for sure if what they are wearing and what they are using can actually help them. The National Fire Protection Association has published the NFPA Standard on Protective Ensemble for Structural Fire Fighting which specifies construction and minimum performance requirements for structural fire fighting gear.
The standard references a number of ASTM fabric tests for use in the specification of new gear elements (Yarborough, 2005, p. 74). What is more dangerous is that fire fighters maybe led into a false hope of safety that they are unknowingly putting themselves in harms way with the odds heavily stacked against them because they are not as well protected as they thought they were.