OSHA is very clear in their directive that firefighters are to be wearing the reflective safety vests while working on the roadway or highway. It amazes me how many firefighters either “forget” or blatantly refuse to wear the reflective safety vests.
There is a misunderstanding in the fire service that the reflective tape on the back of our yellow turnouts meet the standard. THIS IS INCORRECT! While the reflective tape meets the OSHA standard, it fails because it does not meet the contrast standard. In other words, the reflective tape blends in with the yellow background from the coat. As a result, firefighters are required to wear the safety vests over their turnout coat.
While I understand that the process in which the safety vests were delivered to the fire service left a bad taste in all of our mouths, the reality is that it is still the law. Imagine the litigation that will come to an officer who has a member under his command struck by a vehicle while working on the highway. This will not work out well for the officer who did not mandate the firefighter under his command wear his OSHA mandated safety gear.
Be a leader and mandate that you and your crew wear the proper safety gear!!!
Here is an example of the OSHA reflective vest: