Firefighter Gloves

If you have never heard of the name Ryan Pennington, then I would guess you either do not spend a lot of time on social media or you have not had the pleasure of hearing him speak. Mr. Pennington is a lieutenant for the Charleston (West Virginia) Fire Department. He is also a very well-known international speaker on the topics of the Jumpseat Riding Firefighter and Firefighting in Hoarding Homes (Heavy Content Homes).


A while back, we were communicating through Facebook and he told me of an idea he had. He wanted to create a new fire fighting glove that is tough, rugged, but could work easy for the firefighter. My immediate thought was, “Are you crazy?” There are tons of gloves out there and I figured that making a new type would be hard work, hard to set your glove apart from others, and other very similar thoughts.

Fast-forward to a couple months ago, I was attending Fire Rescue International/SAFRE in Charlotte where Mr. Pennington and a partner were set up as a vendor. I went by to see them and in true Pennington fashion was offered a seat to sit down so we could discuss the gloves and all things fire fighting.

There were several things I noticed initially. First, there must be a need for a new glove for firefighters. It seemed like firefighters were constantly flooding his booth; somewhat making it hard for us to talk. More than a couple times I heard chief officers ask for quotes for their whole department to receive these gloves. The second item I noticed was the passion that Mr. Pennington had for the gloves. I have seen the passion he has for the fire service as a whole, but I also saw that come about in his care for the gloves.

So, I did what most firefighters would do. I put my money where my mouth is. I tried on the gloves, found the right size, and handed Mr. Pennington the credit card to purchase a pair of Vanguard MK-1 firefighter gloves. Time for me to learn about these Vanguard gloves.

The Look

The gloves were not fancy. They were all black, with gray fingers and the name “Vanguard” written on the back of the hand area of the gloves. The bottom of the gloves was solid black with stitching that is reminiscent of extrication gloves, showing the padding locations. Without a doubt, these gloves were not meant to be fancy. My hope upon simply looking upon these were that they were not made for looks but made for work. We would see about that.

The Design

For me the design was simple. It had padding in all the right areas. After spending time getting used to the gloves, I put them in service. Every time that I used my gloves for anything I felt that the padding was perfectly placed and protected my hands greatly. This went from simply grabbing on to the bars of the rig to when I was using tools for various tasks. No matter how I used the gloves I never felt that padding was lacking in any areas.

The next area that I wanted to see was the dexterity. How many times have we gotten new gloves or tried them on and felt that we needed to wear these things for a couple months to get them broken in? It has happened to me. With this glove I felt that there was no need for a break in period. I put them on and did a bunch of dexterity tests to appease my mind in putting them in service. Immediately, and without any treatment, I was able to pick up pens on tables, push buttons on a thermal imaging camera, and many other similar tasks. With this in mind, I put the gloves in service immediately.

Simply put, “MK-1 design is multi thinner layers for better flexibility, grip, dexterity and heat release. But unlike other multi-layer gloves MK-1 does not compromise durability plus it alone has SCULPTED fingertips for the first truly tactile structural glove. The end result is easily the best functional dexterity across all fireground activities. Do your work fast, safe (gloves-on), efficient!” — taken from Vanguard’s Facebook Page.


Even though I was very skeptical when Mr. Pennington told me about his idea of a new fire fighting glove, I have really come to enjoy having these MK-1 gloves in service personally. The design, dexterity, use, and functionality are all amazing in this glove. I will be keeping these in service for me until they need replacing. Also, Vanguard is working on several other products that are in some phase of release. As a little teaser, they may be coming out with a new extrication glove soon too. Go like Vanguard’s Facebook page and see what is yet to come.

Until next time, be safe!

David Hesselmeyer, M.P.A., has been in emergency services for 16 years. Currently he is a firefighter, rescue technician, paramedic, and North Carolina Executive Emergency Manager. Hesselmeyer is the owner and primary consultant with On Target Preparedness (OTP) which contracts with emergency services agencies and non profits to assist in risk assessments, plan writing, plan revision, exercise development, etc. He currently volunteers with Buies Creek Fire Rescue and works part time with Harnett County EMS. He can be contacted at or visit his website at

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