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A walk on the wild side with Vallfirest

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Why Vallfirest’s Xtreme Boot could be a turning point in wildland fire footwear

The number of wildland fires continues to rise year after year.

And while work is being done on prevention policies to mitigate the effects and avoid the consequences, the industry is working to ensure the safety of those involved in their extinction with the aim of equipping firefighters with the technical garments that offer them protection all while maintaining comfort.

The history of firefighting footwear

The boots used by firefighters have evolved over time. In the 1970s and 1980s, their footwear came from the military sector.

Those boots were not very well adapted to wildland environments and there were a number of problems concerning safety and comfort with firefighters dealing with little impermeability and deficient ergonomics.

And, in the end, a lack of comfort when working.

Some 20 years later, towards the end of the 1990s and at the start of the new century, great progress had been made with firefighters beginning to use hiking type boots which are the ones that have been used to date.

These boots were made by companies specialising in safety which adapted this type of footwear to mountain boots with certain limitations.

Firefighters had to accept that their footwear would cause sores and would not be very comfortable when on call or in a vehicle.

The technological leap from Vallfirest

More than two decades later, Vallfirest has become the force behind a technological leap with one of the premier wildland fire boots available: the Xtreme Boot, which uses existing technology for technical mountain footwear yet creating a boot that has been adapted for today’s fires, which are more intense and longer lasting.

This unique and pioneering Vallfirest footwear is the result of all the lessons learnt in safety and operability.

Along with Panter, a leading company in safety footwear, Xtreme Boot has been created with the philosophy that firefighters are not the ones that must adapt to the boots but rather the boots must meet professionals’ needs, allowing them to get ahead of fires.

Xtreme Boot is the result of three intense years of research and testing in real fires and prescribed burns.

Men and women have voluntarily participated by trying different prototypes, testing the footwear in different scenarios and roles and in areas ranging from high mountains to boggy lands using technical fire or carrying water hoses.

Sometimes test days lasted more than 24 hours, as was the case of the historical fire season in 2022 which razed the Iberian Peninsula, becoming the worst year in the last several decades.

Absolute safety in footwear

Agility, design and ergonomics: these three words perfectly summarise what is offered by the Vallfirest Xtreme Boot, a boot designed for walking along irregular steep wildlands in the most extreme of conditions, as occurs during wildland fires.

This model marks a turning point in wildland fire footwear as it offers the agility and comfort required of hiking footwear yet the safety of firefighting footwear thanks to the fireproof and waterproof properties.

It is a 24/7 boot designed to handle fires as well as remain comfortable for on-call duty, training and travel.

It features a Quick Lace system in the inner boot and a YKK outer zipper close in addition to Velcro in order to prevent lace exposure to direct flames, vegetation and sharp objects in a view to preventing accidents.

On the other hand, the high, adjusted outer boot design prevents the entrance of external elements for added safety.

The Xtreme Boot has a light and flexible nitrile rubber Vibram sole with excellent shock absorbance and perfect traction on rocky and forestry surfaces.

All of this is in addition to the optimal resistance to high temperatures since it can bear up to 300º C, the temperature a fire may reach.

The outer fireproof, impermeable Cordura boot is equipped with a reinforced toe and heel, coated in plastic to prevent chafing and damage caused by incandescent particles.

It also has an advanced 1100N flexible and light textile anti-perforation insole made with special fibres for excellent resistance covering 100% of the plantar surface and completing preventing perforation. These boots can also be washed to minimise exposure to contaminants.

The all-new Xtreme Boot is EN 15090:2012 European certified as firefighting footwear and is Oeko-Tex certified which ensures the textiles are made free of any harmful substances.

Seeking optimal comfort

In order for a firefighter to do their work under the ideal conditions during a fire, they need footwear that is absolutely safe but also comfortable.

For this reason, Vallfirest has successfully designed very light boots that weigh just 600 grams.

The boot features hypoallergenic inner foam lining which is highly resistant to abrasion and the absorbance of moisture all while being extremely breathable.

This is supplemented with an ergonomically-designed inner collar that is padded with high-density polyurethane foam.

These technical characteristics foster mobility and an excellent fit.

As for the insole, it is anatomic and 100% ecological and recyclable.

The advantage is that it can be removed and is treated to be antibacterial, anti-static and anti-fungal.

With the Quick Lace system in the inner boot and YKK zipper and Velcro for outer closing, adjustments are quick and complication-free.

Firefighters can work safely since the double closure prevents dead leaves from entering as well as more significant damage.

On the other hand, and always in a view to offering professionals comfort, Xtreme Boot features a textile pull loop in the back to make it easier and faster to put on.

The Vallfirest Xtreme Boot is a real turning point. It is a boot designed for walking along irregular, steep wildlands and the number one in safety when working to extinguish a fire under the most extreme of conditions.

It is a whole new footwear concept for wildland firefighters which stands out due to the combined agility and comfort in a mountain boot with the increased protection needed to work in high temperatures.

Technology used to provide quality, comfort and safety.

This article was originally published in the October 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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