National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Shirt – Fire, Large

NFES Number: 
Storage and Shelf Life Checks: 

Initial inspection/Disposal Criteria

  1. Inspect for holes, cuts, tears, or torn seams. Inspect for color change (yellow to white/pink) caused by exposure to heat. Dye sublimation is the result of heat baking the dye out of the fabric. Areas of fabric with dye sublimation do not affect the performance of the shirt. Charring (hard brittle fabric that will then form a hole) in association with sublimation will decrease the performance of the fabric and the item should be disposed of. Inspect for loose or missing buttons, burn marks, stains and any sign of exposure to poison ivy/oak/sumac.
  2. Return to stock if item is clean and in unused condition.
  3. Refurbish any missing buttons, holes or seams. Launder each item following cleaning instructions.
  4. Dispose of item when repairs are not economically feasible or would make item unsafe for use.

Refurbishing Procedures

A. Cleaning


  1. Follow the cleaning procedures described in the publication,  Dupont Nomex Aramid Fiber Laundering Guide.
  2. Abbreviated washing procedures from above publication:
    1. “Garments of NOMEX® should be washed separately from other articles to avoid contamination with lint of flammable fibers.”
    2. “Tests show that formulations designed for use at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) or less – such as high-surfactant, low-alkalinity products - adequately clean NOMEX® and provide the best fabric color retention.”
    3. “For heavily stained and oily garments of NOMEX®, a higher temperature wash formula may be required for adequate cleaning.”
    4. “Garments made of NOMEX® must be adequately rinsed to remove residual wash chemicals.”
    5. “In some instances, tumble dry conditioning is the only finishing necessary for garments of NOMEX®.”
    6. “…dry cleaning is an alternative method of removing heavy soil and may be preferable to repeated high-temperature washing.”
  3. If items are taken to vendor laundry facilities for refurbishment; ensure that they receive a copy of this refurbishment standard. The laundry facility must satisfy both--the requirements as set by the manufacturer specification and the agreement made with the local agency. 

Nomex® Clothing Exposed to Poison Oak/Ivy/Sumac


At the request of the National Support Cache Refurbishing Standards Committee, MTDC researched the practicality of laundering Nomex firefighting clothing that has been contaminated with urushiol oil (an allergen to which the body reacts) from poison oak/ivy/sumac exposure. Current cache practices range from normal washing procedures to disposal of shirts and pants that have known urushiol contamination.

A search of on-line sources didn’t produce any special care instructions beyond normal laundering. Some examples:

  • “All clothing should be laundered, and everything else that may be contaminated with urushiol should be washed thoroughly.” American Academy of Dermatology. 
  • “…be sure to wash your clothing promptly with detergent…” Mayo Clinic. 
  • “Washing clothes with ordinary laundry soap will remove urushiol.” Missouri Department of Conservation.

A phone conversation with Daniel Boelman, RN, BSN, Customer Service Manager with Zanfel Laboratories, Inc. also indicated no special treatment beyond normal laundering. (Zanfel produces a commercially available poison oak/ivy skin wash). Mr. Boelman recommended using vinyl gloves when handling contaminated clothing.

On 11/17/2008 the Forest Service filed a SAFENET Supplemental Corrective Action concerning poison oak reactions experienced by firefighters during the 2008 fire season in California. In that posting it is recommended that, “All clothing and equipment should be laundered immediately …A degreaser was recommended for helping to remove urushiol from clothing and equipment.”


MTDC recommends that fire clothing contaminated with urushiol oil be cleaned following normal Nomex laundering procedures. Extra care should be exercised when handling the contaminated clothing. Clearly labeled plastic bags should be used to separate contaminated clothing from other returned clothing. Commercial laundry personnel should wear long sleeves and vinyl gloves when handling contaminated clothing and dispose of any bags used for transporting the clothes to the laundering facility. As an extra precaution, supply cache and laundry workers could apply an over-the-counter skin-barrier product that contains bentoquatum (such as Ivy Block or Stokoguard) before handling contaminated clothing. Bentoquatum helps prevent urushiol from penetrating the skin. After exposure, workers’ clothes should be washed and gloves disposed of. 

B. Repairs

  1. Repair holes, cuts, tears, burns, and torn seams by darning, patching, or by duplicating the original construction.
  2. Use Nomex® (Aramid) patching material for all repairs.
  3. Re-stitch frayed buttonholes using a buttonhole or zigzag stitch that has 50 to 60 stitches per buttonhole.
  4. Replace damaged hook and pile fastener tape with tape of the same length, width, and quality as the original.

C. Testing for Performance

  1. Inspect items after laundering to ensure all foreign matter and stains have been removed. If items fail second inspection spot treat problem areas or remove item from service.
  2. Test all replacement hook and pile fasteners after repair. 

D. Repackaging 

  • 30 each of same NFES #/size in NFES#002007 carton (24”X16”X16”).


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