For many volunteer firefighters tennis shoes seem to be the norm. Athletic-type shoes may be comfortable, but for safety and clean-ability firefighters really need to wear a tactical style boot, commonly called station boots or duty boots. They don’t have to be steel toed, just make sure they have non-slip soles and the outside can be cleaned regularly.
What to look for in footwear:
- Deep tread/non-slip sole
- Puncture proof bottom
- Hard toe to protect from dropped items (steel toe isn’t necessary)
- Water resistant
- Above the ankles for better support and protection
- Quick to put on
I started off with some just over the ankle, slip on boots. While they were quick to get on and off, plus had the safety features mentioned above, they started to quickly tear up around the tops from the frequency of me pulling them on and off. I still have these boots, but now use them as a back-up.
Most of the volunteers I work with wear station boots or tennis shoes, but there was this one time when it was a stormy night and we all got soaking wet just running from our cars to the station. Well, on this particular night one of our firefighters showed up to the station in crocs. Several people teased him about his choice of foot-wear, and while he admitted it was a poor choice on his part, he said he grabbed the crocs in a hurry wanting to keep tennis shoes dry.
So, what footwear should volunteer firefighters wear?
My absolute favorite boots are 8” tactical side zip boots. They’re durable and easy to scrub clean (ashes, blood, mud, you name it). The zippered sides also mean they’re quick to get on which is perfect when you get called out in the middle of the night. I’ve posted links below to two different brands, but there are several to choose from.
If you are still in the mood to want to wear something besides station boots, take a look at the list below.
- Tennis shoes – these are fine for an EMS assist and okay around the station, depending on what type of work you’ll be doing. Be prepared to wash them frequently.
- Rain/mud boots – work well for many situations, but can be difficult to squat & bend in. (I personally feel if the mud is that deep its probably best to put on turn-out pants and firefighting boots.)
- Cowboy boots – while these are durable, easy to clean, and will protect your feet, their lack of tread on the bottom can be a safety issue when climbing on trucks and ladders.
- Firefighting boots – these should stay with your turnout pants. If the scene you’re on needs turnout pants, then wear the turnout boots. (Not to mention firefighting boots are heavy and you won’t want to wear them longer than needed.)
- Crocs, flip-flops, sandals, dress shoes, etc. Just don’t. Seriously. Not only are these a safety hazard (spills, slips, dropped items, broken glass, and so on) they don’t look professional. Keep a spare pair of tennis shoes or boots in your vehicle to change into as needed.
Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that when you click links and purchase items, in many (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links is much appreciated. -Rookie