The purpose of these articles is to help everyone understand the difference in ANSI Standard 107-2004, and ANSI Standard 207-2006, High Visibility Safety Vests that are required to be worn by workers on all federally funded highways. As previously stated, the ANSI 207-2006 vests do not replace or interchange with the ANSI 107-2004. It is hoped that the Standards of the 207-2006 vests will be amended soon. Strong public safety justifications exist to recognize the 207-2006 vests.
Garment design is the key distinction in the two standards. By allowing less (450 sq. inches) of background fabric to be used, law enforcement could now combine Police Blue fabrics with fluorescent orange or yellow. Fire Service could use their traditional red, orange, or yellow fabrics, but needed Fire Resistant fabrics per the (NFPA 701) and or (ASTM F-1506) standards. EMS personnel traditionally wear navy or white. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) encouraged the use of colorcoding response personnel and/or the use of ID panels. The result is new vest designs that combine non-traditional fire resistant and poly-cotton fabrics with fluorescent fabrics to create entirely new designs for “Public Safety Vests” and “First Responder Safety Vests”. Many are one-size-fits-most, which allows for difference in personnel that will use these vests in an emergency. Clear and velcro removable ID panels permit fast changes in assignments during Incident Management. (There is also a new Incident Command Vest, which we will discuss later.)
The main difference is that the 207 vest features a shorter length. It has velcro “break-away” sides and shoulder designs on select products, which provide an extra level of protection in the event that the vest becomes tangled or caught on something. Another advantage of the shorter vest is the ease of access to belt mounted tools, or handguns for law enforcement. Following these considerations, the new ANSI 207-2006 standard allows Public Safety personnel to maintain their identity as First Responders.
The new standard suggests many design options, such as breakaway, colored identifiers, pockets, loops, badge holders, microphone tabs and ID panels. These are suggestions and not mandatory to the standard. The design options are intended to encourage inventive ways to meet end user needs for functionality, while still offering a high visibility safety garment.
It is our hope that all of our highway workers, Public Safety Workers, and First Responders remain safe as they perform their important jobs on our nations highways.