5 Best Firefighting Gloves (2020) with NFPA Compliance

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best firefighter gloves

Our top Pick:

Dragon Fire Alpha X NFPA Firefighting Glove


Our pick for the best firefighting gloves is the Dragon Fire Alpha X Firefighting Glove. It meets NFPA standards, is built with strong cowhide leather that is reinforced in the knuckles, and allows for a lot of dexterity while in use. We’re fans!

Here at Firefighter Garage we personally only choose gloves for firefighters that meet the NFPA 1971 standard for PPE protection against structural and proximity firefighting hazards.

That’s the minimum standard PPE recommendation from the National Fire Protection Agency.

Here’s the explanation of this standard in NFPA’s own words[1]:

NFPA 1971 protects fire fighting personnel by establishing minimum levels of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and bloodborne pathogen hazards encountered during structural and proximity fire fighting operations.

So we wouldn’t be getting gloves that aren’t NFPA-1971 compliant.

The reason we’re stressing this so much is that the first page of Google is FULL of reviews of so-called firefighting gloves that don’t meet NFPA standard, which we just can’t comprehend.

So we’re not listing the “12 Best Gloves for Firefighters” or “10 Best Firefighting Gloves”. We’re listing just five gloves.

Why?

Because all the gloves that we’re outlining in this list are advertised as meeting NFPA standard. And that’s how it should be.

Best Firefighter Gloves Reviews

In our opinion, the best firefighting gloves that meet NFPA 1971 standards are:

  • Dragon Fire Alpha X NFPA Leather Firefighting Glove – (Best Overall)
  • Pro-tech-8 Fusion Pro Structural Leather Firefighting Glove
  • Ringers R-631 Extrication Gloves
  • Intra-FIT HYG01 Structural Professional Leather Firefighting Gloves
  • Hysafety Cowhide Structural Firefighter Gloves

Don’t forget that we’re not offering personalized professional advice, so seeking professional advice for your situation is a must.

Best Firefighting Gloves – Comparison Table

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Full Review of Gloves for Firefighters

1. Dragon Fire Alpha X NFPA Firefighting Glove – (Best Overall)

Bottom Line: We’ve chosen the Dragon Fire Alpha X as the best structural firefighting glove for our circumstances. We like the superior build quality, full leather exterior, and reinforced layers on vulnerable areas. The waterproof layer isn’t our favorite but it does the job.


The Dragon Fire Alpha X is in our opinion the best structural firefighting glove on the market today. In short, we feel it’s a very durable full cowhide leather waterproof glove with NFPA NFPA-1971 approval.

First, what we like: the superior build quality. They have reinforced the parts of the glove that are most likely to wear the soonest – good job, Dragon Fire. There is a double stitched banding on the back knuckle area. They’ve also provided added protection in the well of the thumb where many gloves first start to show a split in the seam. There are also wear pads strategically placed on the fingertips to minimize fingertip wear. All pros.

Further, despite these extra layers in vulnerable places, it still allows good dexterity for handling firefighter flashlights, radios, etc. while wearing the glove.

The waterproofing layer (internal vapor barrier) is decent and does the job, but not our favorite on the market. It’s not Gore-Tex unfortunately (it’s hard to find Gore-Tex in firefighting gloves) but it’s a similar proprietary product.

While Dragon Fire boast the loose internal vapor barrier as a pro, we prefer vapor barriers that are laminated to the fabric of the product to reduce water build-up in the outer layers of the glove. However, we do like that it’s puncture resistant, and we don’t think you’ll have too much trouble getting waterlog issues with this pair for at least the first year or two of heavy use.

Why These Gloves:

  • NFPA-1972 Certified: They’ve gotten SEI’s independent certification for these gloves so they’re at NFPA-1971 standard for firefighting equipment.
  • Great Reinforcing in Vulnerable Areas: We’re impressed with the reinforcing on the knuckles, fingertips and well of the thumb.
  • Full Leather Exterior: Nothing but leather on the exterior which is great for both durability and heat resistance.

Keep in Mind:

  • Waterproof Layer: The internal waterproof layer is loose rather than laminated to the fabric. That’s not what we prefer, but we acknowledge that some do prefer a loose bag.

Dragon Fire Product Video (It’s old, but still valid)

2. Protech-8 Fusion Structural Firefighting Glove

Bottom Line: To be fair, the Protech-8 Fusion is up there with the Dragon Fire Alpha X and it was just personal preference that put the Alpha X to the top. These are the top two by a fair way in our opinion.


The Protech-8 Fusion is up there as the other premium quality structural firefighting glove on the market today.

There are some areas where the Pro-tech 8 wins out over the Dragon Fire. The important one is dexterity. They’ve done a lot to make these gloves comfortable and easy to use in practical situations.

While the Dragon Fire uses cowhide leather, the Protech-8 uses 100% Goat skin. Goat skin is much more flexible than cowhide, so you can expect to get a bit of a dexterity boost and tensile strength from the use of the goat skin.

We also love that the leather palm doesn’t bunch as much as competitors when you grip something. They’ve actually stitched the palms down so that the glove caves in rather than bunches up when you squeeze. This makes the glove great for gripping – again: a win on dexterity.

Lastly on this ease-of-use point is the leather pull tab. It’s simple, but just having that pull-tab makes putting the gloves on a hell of a lot easier. Great job, Pro-Tech!

But, Pro-Tech has also a good job reinforcing the important areas to make up for potential structural weaknesses. There is strong reinforcement on the knuckles and palm. Plus, there is an internal kevlar layer to make it more cut resistant. Plus, there’s a decent waterproof layer that’s at least comparable to the direct competitor – the Dragon Fire Alpha X.

Why These Gloves:

  • NFPA-1972 Certified: They’ve gotten SEI’s independent certification for these gloves so they’re at NFPA-1971 standard for firefighting equipment.
  • Great for Dexterity: We think these ones win out when it comes to usability. They’ve gone out of their way to ensure you can do fine motor and gripping tasks like operating a rescue pocket knife while wearing the gloves.
  • Great Reinforcing in Vulnerable Areas: We’ll also give them points for their strong knuckle protection.

Protech Product Video

3. Ringers R-631 Extrication Gloves

Bottom Line: We feel this is a good quality pair of gloves, but has less knuckle protection than our top 2 picks.

Ringers is a respected industrial gloves brand. The R-631 Extrication Gloves are their answer to competitors’ firefighting gloves ranges. This and the R-630 are the only gloves in the Ringers range that is NFPA-1971 certified, so we would choose not to drop down to the R-3 range. We’d stick with the R-6’s so we’ve got that NFPA certification.

We like that these gloves have full cowhide exterior, are lined with 2-ply kevlar, and have a durable waterproof layer.

We’re also big fans of the wristlet which we feel does a good job at attempting to protect people’s wrists well. There’s also a great pull tab for getting the gloves on and off with ease.

What we don’t like?

There isn’t any extra layer of protection on the knuckle.

You can read their full spec sheet here.

Why These Gloves:

  • NFPA-1972 Certified: They’ve gotten SEI’s independent certification for these gloves so they’re at NFPA-1971 standard for firefighting equipment.
  • Cowhide: As we’ve noted earlier, we’re fans of cowhide leather for heavy duty gloves.

Keep in Mind:

  • Lower Tier Ringers Gloves are not NFPA Certified: Other ‘firefighter gloves reviews’ on Google rated lower-tiered Ringers gloves highly. Note that the R-631s and R-630s are the Ringers models that have NFPA-1971 certification.
  • Get from Ringers Website Direct: You’ll have to buy these direct from the Ringers website as it’s hard to find an Amazon reseller who stocks them.

4. Intra-FIT HYG01 Structural Professional Firefighting Gloves

Bottom Line: This is another solid and comfortable pair of gloves, but we feel the design is a little loose. The palms are not stitched-in and the knuckles need more reinforcement.


Intra-FIT’s answer to the needs of firefighters is the HYG01 Structural Professional Firefighting Glove. It’s a nice looking and simple cowhide glove which we’ve actually recommended previously in our review of the best gifts for firefighters.

We like the look of the reinforced upper palm section which is one of the first areas to start to wear, but we’re surprised there isn’t more reinforcing elsewhere on the clove – especially on the thumb and nuckles.

There’s also not much in terms of stitching in the palms meaning these gloves might bunch up on you when trying to grip things.

The wrist protection looks pretty good and we’re fans of the simple pull tab on the gloves to help you to get them on easily.

Of course, they’ve also got an internal waterproofing layer to ensure you stay dry while in the field.

Why These Gloves:

  • NFPA-1972 Certified: They’ve gotten SEI’s independent certification for these gloves so they’re at NFPA-1971 standard for firefighting equipment.
  • Cowhide: As we’ve noted earlier, we’re fans of cowhide leather for heavy duty gloves.
  • Confidence Buying Online: They have a nice sizing guide on the Amazon page that helps you make sure you’re getting the right size which is nice. They come in Medium, Large and Extra-Large, so if you’re the guy on the truck who’s got dainty hands you might want to look at these.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not the Best Reinforcing: We wish the knuckles had another layer of reinforcing.

5. Hysafety Cowhide Structural Firefighter Gloves

Bottom Line: A really affordable option but the big complaint here is that the inside liner comes out too easily.


Rounding out our list are the Hysafety’s entrant to the market. They’ve come out with this pair of cowhide structural firefighter gloves that have gotten the tick of approval as NFPA 1971 compliant.

The quality isn’t actually all that bad for this pair. They’re fully cowhide and still have a waterproof inner. The palms are well-reinforced and have a stitched-in palm pattern to reduce bulging of the palm when gripping. All these things we’d expect from a much more ‘premium’ product.

Some things we don’t like: there’s no double reinforced knuckle area – which we think is pretty much essential for our preferences.

But the biggest consumer complaint is that the inside liner comes out too easily when you pull your hands out of the gloves. This is a huge usability issue, especially if you’re taking the gloves off then putting them back on in an intense situation on the fire ground.

Why These Gloves:

  • Affordable: They’re really quite affordable for a pair of NFPA 1971 certified gloves.
  • Cowhide: We prefer cowhide gloves.
  • Stiched-in Palm: Reduces bulge when gripping.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not the Best Reinforcing: We wish the knuckles had another layer of reinforcing.
  • Inside Liner Turns Out too Easily: When this happens, it’s hard to quickly put the gloves back on so it can be a real pain.

What we Look for in Firefighting Gloves

When choosing the best firefighting gloves, we followed the below guidelines. These are personal preferences only and not professional recommendations.

NFPA 1971 – 2018 Fire Rating

As we’ve stated repeatedly, we prefer gloves that meet the NFPA 1971 minimum standard. You might also see that listed as NFPA 1971-2018 as it was updated in 2018.

This standard ensures the gloves have a versatile moisture barrier, thermal liner and an appropriate wristlet to prevent skin exposure. It also means you know the gloves have been designed specifically with firefighters in mind – you’re not wearing some cheap welder’s or gardener’s glove that isn’t up to the task.

Leather

We feel firefighting gloves should be all leather on the outside. All the above gloves meet this criteria.

The two differentiating factors to keep in mind are whether to get cowhide or goat skin.

Cowhide is thick and very popular because it’s so heavy duty. We’re personally big fans of cowhide gloves. But, a cowhide glove may sacrifice some dexterity as it’s stiffer than goat skin.

Goat skin is a popular alternative for gloves. We’re not as keen on goat skin but that’s personal preference. Many people swear by it, and it’s used by Pro-tech as a marketing element in their glove. We’d concede that it is much more flexible to help with dexterity, but we’re on the fence about whether it’s as durable.

Knuckle Protection

Firefighters so commonly lead with the knuckles. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re out on a job think about how you hold your hose, flashlight, etc. etc. – and look at the direction your knuckles are facing.

So we prefer gloves that have reinforced leather in the knuckle area. This is something that’s very specific to the needs of firefighters. So it doesn’t just show you it’s a good glove. It shows that it’s a glove that’s been designed with firefighters in mind. It’s usually a pretty good sign of a good glove.

Dexterity.

As a general rule, the thicker the glove, the better the protection.

But thick gloves cause dexterity issues.

We feel both the Pro-tech 8 and Dragon Fire are high quality gloves that allow for some pretty good dexterity. But if we had to make a decision, we’d lean toward the Pro-tech 8 as the best structural firefighting glove for dexterity.

For two reasons.

First: The Pro-tech 8 is made of goat skin. Goat skin gloves are often very popular because they’re very strong but also allow for a lot more flexibility. The Pro-tech 8 is the only glove on this list that’s goat skin.

Second: The Pro-tech 8 has stiched-in palms. These make the palm collapse in when you grip object, reducing potential bulge.

But that’s just our personal preference.

Wrist Length

We prefer gloves with longer wrist lengths. It minimizes the chance of getting debris, embers, or even flashover burns in under the glove.

On top of this, take a look at the wristlet. This is the soft part at the base of the glove that hugs your wrist.

The NFPA 1971 regulation requires that all compliant firefighting gloves have these wristlets – again, this is to minimize the risk of embers getting in under your gloves.

Waterproofing

A waterproof moisture layer is another requirement of NFPA 1971.

This waterproof layer is made of special material that lets air cross through the layer but not moisture. The effect is to allow your hand to breathe but keep it dry.

Historically, Gore-Tex has been the premium brand for waterproof layering of gloves. Unfortunately we’re not currently aware of any Gore-Tex NFPA compliant gloves.

But most brands have their own proprietary moisture layer these days – and each of the above gloves does contain this layer.

We prefer that the waterproofing is laminated to the wall of the glove. This is very common in higher quality ski gloves as it prevents buildup of water between the outer wall and the glove itself. The alternative is to have that waterproof layer sitting loose as an inside layer of the glove. You can’t stitch it to the other layers because stitching will break the waterproof layer.

It seems there isn’t a laminated waterproof layer on any NFPA compliant gloves yet. So you’re currently stuck with the regular loose layer version currently.

Pull Tab for Wearability.

A pull tab is an excellent little addition to any glove. It’s a simple tab on the palm side of the glove that you can hold and pull to get your glove on faster. Funnily enough, NFPA even has regulations to state that this pull tab must have fireproof properties.

We like the pull tab option as it saves time and makes it easier to put your second glove on when all you’ve got to guide your hand is your other gloved hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference between Extrication Gloves and Structural Firefighting Gloves?

In our opinion, these are just marketing terms.

Technically, you’d think extrication gloves are designed for extrication tasks like technical rescues & removing people trapped in a car accident, while structural firefighting gloves are specifically for use in structure fires.

But in our opinion the reality is that a good pair of firefighting gloves does both tasks.

The one thing to keep in mind is that some extrication gloves may not be particularly fire and heat resistant – but as we’re repeated a thousand times, we just want to make sure it’s NFPA 1971 compliant!

Do I need a Glove Strap?

That’s up to you and your chief. You can buy them for super cheap on Amazon, so they’re always worth having around – but we’ve found we don’t really use them all that much. If the gloves are off, helmets are usually off too, so we just drop the gloves in the helmets for safekeeping and get on with our lives.

What is a Firefighting Glove Strap?

A firefighter glove strap is usually just a small tool that you can clip to your turnout gear to hold your gloves while you’re not using them. Simple as that. you can hang them off your belt, for example, using a spring loaded clip, so they’re held safe and handy while you’re not wearing them. They can be great to make sure your gloves don’t get dirty or lost while you’re doing those fine motor tasks that can’t be done while wearing heavy duty gloves.

Do I need Different Gloves for Wildland Firefighting?

Overall, you really need to ask your line manager about the requirements of your workplace. We feel your regular NFPA 1971 gloves should do. But you’ve got to check with your chief.

Final Thoughts

In our opinion the best structural firefighting gloves are either the Pro-tech 8 Fusion or Dragon Fire Alpha X. These two pairs stand out against the competition as the best quality firefighter gloves. We believe they are an essential piece of personal protective equipment for firefighters.

For us, the most important thing to remember is that the gloves should meet NFPA 1971 minimum standards. This will ensure they’re at the minimum quality benchmark set by the premier body for fire protection in the United States.

Other things we look out for include reinforced knuckle areas, stitched in palms, a waterproof moisture barrier, and either a cowhide or goat skin leather exterior.

Okay, that’s it. Remember, this is not professional advice and is only general information that’s relevant to our circumstances, not your own. Consult a professional (or your boss) for authoritative advice.

We hope this review has been useful for you!

Cheers,
Chris

Sources

[1] NFPA: https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=1971