There’s no way to write about this topic without stepping on some toes. Our goal, however, is to keep all toes safe and explain this topic so you can make a sensible purchase decision.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE NFPA® CERTIFIED?

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA®) 1977 Standard promotes wildland firefighting safety by setting consensus-based standards for gloves, eyewear, and wildland fire boots, among other items.

The Standard cites specifications for these items that third-party firms must review and verify before they receive official certification. There are also standards set for products that want to receive certification similar to the criteria used by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — another safety standard organization.

Manufacturers of wildland firefighter boots must meet NFPA® compliance standards in the following categories to receive certification:

  1. Their boots must be NFPA® Certified Boots or in the process of receiving certification.
  2. Their boots must meet NFPA® standards.
  3. If not certified, manufacturers cannot mention the NFPA® directly, but they can use language to signify meeting their standards.

What are those standards?

The basics:

  • 8” high, measured from the bottom of the heel to the top of the boot.
  • Flame-resistant thread and laces
  • Leather on the exterior
  • Lug melt-resistant sole

WHY DOES NFPA® CERTIFICATION MATTER?

What is so special about a boot that is officially certified? Like any professional certification, it’s an indication for and validation of legitimacy and competence.

Some argue that achieving certification entitles something to a higher status level. However, just because someone has a master’s degree doesn’t always mean they are brighter than those equally qualified in their field. It’s just that they paid for that certification in time, money, and effort.

You must ask yourself whether you trust a non-certified boot will meet the same quality standards as a certified boot.

Certification costs money, which the consumer inevitably pays for in the end. However, before deciding if you want to pay that additional premium, you need to consider the price difference, marketing efforts, brand loyalty, store return policy, availability, and other purchasing factors. (Your local BareBones WorkWear® customer service person can help make sense of your options.)

WHAT ARE SOME NFPA® CERTIFIED BRANDS?

Brands that have official NFPA® certification include Whites (Smoke Jumper and Fire Hybrid), Danner (Flashpoint, Wildland Tactical Firefighter), and Nicks (Hot Shot).

The Kenetrek Wildland Fire boot has an NFPA® label that states: “Meets NFPA® standards as verified by an independent inspection lab.”

Frank’s Boots, Hoffman, and Wesco say they meet NFPA® standards but do not claim to be certified. With no certification label, you might see a comment like — “Vibram ® Red X Fire rated NFPA lug sole.” Note the difference between “rated” and how it’s not the same as certified.

Some boots — such as White’s Line Scout, Ad Tec, and Drew’s — are labeled firefighter boots, but they don’t reference NFPA® standards.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING THE RIGHT BOOT

Is it still a Bug if you put a Corvette engine into a Volkswagen Beetle? Well, it may be a superbug, but if you “redesign” or even repair/rebuild your certified NFPA® approved boot, you have voided its certification.

What can you tell me about soles?

Soles for Fire & Ice: The Vibram® S587 sole is designed for extreme hot and cold mountainous conditions and is known as the White Dot. There are other soles made for specific conditions. Whites Fire Hybrid is designed to increase support when traversing an incline or needing side hill traction.

What about a safety toe?

All the safety toe boots we sell at BareBones WorkWear® comply with the ANSI standard for protection and are classified as ASTM F2413.

Safety toe can mean steel, composite, alloy, aluminum, NMT, or Kevlar. The manufacturer selects the material based on cost and design. Steel transfers heat and cold more while adding additional weight than other materials. The cost and fit quality of non-steel materials have greatly improved and can now match the safety standards of steel-toe boots.

Cut the Crap – What type of boot do you recommend?

Any boots we stock or special order for wildland firefighters will be great boots sold at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

When selecting a boot, let fit be your guide. If the boot fits like a glove, your insole is centered, and your heel doesn’t slip – you found your boot.

How you wear your boots will determine which features and price you should be willing to pay. Price can be an indicator of overall quality (ex., thicker, high-quality leather), but part of that price will include the manufacturer’s cost for the certification process.

Helpful Tips for Maintaining Your Boots and Feet

Protect your investment and your ass:

  • Use BareBones Lube or Oil – do not let the leather on your boots dry out!
  • We suggest KG Kevlar laces or Rhino laces. Leather laces are flame resistant but tend to dry out quickly and snap apart.
  • When it comes to socks, it’s wool or nothing because “cotton kills.” Finding the right sock is all about breathability. BareBones brand Wigwam and Fox River are at all BareBones WorkWear® stores.
  • Some of the features you should consider include: Waterproof, EH (Electrical Hazard), puncture resistance, side zipper, insulation, USA-made, rebuildable, general warranty on defects, bloodborne pathogen resistant, and leather quality.
  • While leather is known as the best natural flame-resistant material, technological advancements fueled by environmental concerns will lead to the development of other materials in the future. Be prepared one day soon to try on a pair of recycled plastic bottle boots.

STAY FIERCE, STAY SAFE!

When it comes to choosing your wildland firefighting boots, trust the NFPA® certification for ultimate reliability. At BareBones WorkWear, with 8 locations across California including Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Auburn, West Sacramento, Rocklin, Yuba City, Woodland, and Grass Valley, we’ve got you covered for all your work wear needs, from head to toe! Find a location near you and unleash your inner fire-breathing hero.

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