The many forms of a uniform

      Historically, the amount of time and thought put into a uniform design was not in keeping with the ratio of hours an officer ends up spending in it. Modern uniform technology has some praises to sing however. Today's manufacturers are...

Built-in tourniquets

   Another uniform offering is borrowed from a cousin industry to improve upon traditional duty wear. Developed for the "high-speed" law enforcement mission — for SWAT and hostage rescue team-type ops — Blackhawk's High Performance Fighting Uniform (HPFU) was adapted from a similar design made for the U.S. Navy Seals. The HPFU system includes pants, jacket and combat shirt with a layered vest made of a no-melt, no-drip nylon/cotton blend, with a fire-resistant material on the shirt torso.

   Terry Naughton, vice president of marketing, explains one of the most important developments within the HPFU is the eight tourniquets built into the uniform and positioned in areas of major arteries on the body. "Soldiers had told us and what studies had shown was that the No. 1 cause of death in the battlefield was extremity bleeding," Naughton says. "While everybody was issued a tourniquet, they couldn't always apply it in time to save their own lives. So we took all their feedback and we made those changes."

   In addition to the SWAT-style uniform, Blackhawk has recently revealed a jacket system. Naughton says the company borrowed some features from the outdoor market to create warm layers that provide maximum comfort, mobility and performance in cool weather. Thumb holes on the cuffs ensure no gaps between glove and sleeve and make for more efficient layering.

   "The most basic function of a thumb hole is to allow you to put the jacket over it easier," Naughton explains. "Like a little kid, when you go to put your jacket on, you pull your sleeve down and then you hold it with your fist. When you have thumb holes you don't have to worry about that. It helps you get the jacket on easier." The new Warrior Wear jacket lineup includes the Grid Fleece Series, the Thermo-Fur Jacket, the RAD Series Vests and the Fleece Liner for Blackhawk's Shell Jak Series.

   Blackhawk plans to offer the HPFU in April.

Protection under fire

   A significant number of agencies informed Tru-Spec by Atlanco that they could not afford to provide their SWAT teams with fire-resistant clothing; undoubtedly a truth known far and wide. This got the company's boilers turned up to full-blast. In response, Tru-Spec brought a fire-resistant aspect to law enforcement all the while remembering that officers prefer to be comfortable.

   Within its X-Fire Series, the Interlock fabric is available as a Tactical Response Uniform (TRU) and a Flight Suit — with the Flight Suit designed mostly for airborne units. Interlock fabric is a fire-resistant material containing DuPont Nomex brand fiber and cotton combination to form a lightweight and cost-effective uniform, thus making it more comfortable than a full Nomex uniform.

   "[When] SWAT officers are called out it could last an hour, it could last 14 hours," says Bob Grueskin of Grueskin Marketing Communications, spokesman for Tru-Spec. "It might be a shooter; it might be a bomb call or drug lab. He doesn't know what he's going to be involved in, so he can put this on and he'll be comfortable no matter what the circumstances."

   The X-Fire Interlock cotton fabrics are treated with a fire-resistant chemical that locks in the flame-resistant properties. After a 100-wash test, the properties showed no loss of fire resistance with a 2-inch to 2.5-inch char length — the maximum distance of damage done by a flame to the fabric in tests.

   The TRU features multiple loop-faced pockets, many using a hook-and-loop closure secured with YKK Powerhooks. Additional features include a bi-swing back, adjustable hook-and-loop cuff with zigzag stitching, a drawstring waist and leg ties, sleeve pen stalls, and a 1-inch-wide belt loop with a 2.25-inch opening.

   Knowing the locker is already full of gear, Tru-Spec built in an interior stow bag for packing and a hanger loop near the collar of its fire-resistant X-Fire Flight Suit. As with its sibling, the suit comes with a multitude of pockets, including reinforced external elbow pockets for elbow pads, two large zippered upper chest pockets, a zipper cargo pocket and an extra-large calf zipper pocket.

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