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Fifty years ago, firefighters risked their lives for their communities wearing only wool and rubber that protected them from the intense heat and flames endured on the job.

Today, these brave firefighters are still on the front lines of danger protecting the communities in which they serve, but are now equipped with flame-resistant gear giving them extra protection. Nomex, like many other synthetic fibers, is made from compounds found in oil and natural gas resources. During the refinement phase, oil and natural gas compounds are combined with others to yield the fiber, Nomex, which is then woven into fabrics for use on outerwear.

When exposed to intense heat, Nomex swells and becomes thicker, forming a protective barrier between the heat source and the skin — and providing the extra seconds needed to save a life.

More than 3 million firefighters use Nomex in their jobs every day, as they protect us from over 100 million fires that occur each year. It’s also used in gear for astronauts and racecar drivers.

Nomex fibers and the protection they provide are just one example of how life-saving innovations are made possible through our oil and natural gas resources.