NASBLA Roundtable

PFD preferences

  • 1.  PFD preferences

    Posted 02-14-2020 10:51 AM
    Our department is looking at purchasing new PFD's for our boat patrol.  I wanted to see what that majority of local agencies utilize on their lake patrol and river patrol.  We are looking into the Mustang Survival HIT automatic.  Is there any agency that uses them, and the name of the company that sells them at a reasonable price.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Ken Paulison
    Douglas County Sheriff
    Omaha, NE

    Kenneth Paulison
    Douglas County Sheriff

  • 2.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-15-2020 09:55 AM
    The HIT PFD is what Texas Parks and Wildlife uses. I'll admit they're expensive, but they are very comfortable for all day wear. To my knowledge we've never had one fail to deploy (though it does take some time), and from personal experience: they can get absolutely soaked with rain and not go off. I have also used Mustang float coats, and like those very much as well.

    Philip Bird
    Game Warden
    Texas Parks and Wildlife

  • 3.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-16-2020 01:43 PM
    North Wildwood NJ FIRE. RESCUE 
    Crews use the Mustang manual inflatable. PFD's. Great for close quarters operations of the crew

  • 4.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-21-2020 04:50 PM
    The current life vest used is the Mustang Survival HIT auto inflatable. We are beginning to buy the First Watch gear 38g Pro Auto and Manual Inflatables. They cost significantly less and have some desirable features. A link to the product site is included below.  


    Major Bryan L. Young 
    Assistant Chief - Administration
    Virginia Conservation Police
    P 804.367.0234 / M 540.537.1015
    Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
    A 7870 Villa Park Drive, Henrico, VA 23228
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  • 5.  RE: PFD preferences

    CRBP Commissioner
    Posted 02-15-2020 11:25 AM
    Oklahoma Marine Enforcement Section uses Mustang HIT PFD's.  As you know, not every mission is the same so we issue each trooper different types of PFD's (auto-inflators, manual inflators and inherently buoyant) for the different circumstances that they may encounter and let the officer choose the best PFD for the job.  We also issue float coats.

    First Watch also has an excellent line of PFD's, weather gear and other products for marine law enforcement.

    For Mustang Survival products, contact Steve Chambers to see who your regional sales contact would be:
    Steve Chambers
    1215 Old Fairhaven Pkwy, Ste C
    Bellingham WA 98225
    360.676.1782 ext 107

    For First Watch contact:
    First Watch
    Edward Chen
    1141 Ringwood Court Ste 130
    San Jose CA 95131

    Lt. Mark Brown
    Boating Law Administrator
    Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Section
    Oklahoma City, OK USA

  • 6.  RE: PFD preferences

    Reporting Project
    Posted 02-15-2020 11:25 AM
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also uses the Mustang hydrostatics. The model we use is the MD3183LE, at about $240 a piece.   The company we buy from is Machovec, in Monticello MN.  The jackets must be rearmed every five years per Mustang, at about $50 per kit.
    We like the jackets, have been using them for 6 years with no issues.

    W. Glenn Moates
    LT. Colonel, Boating & Law Enforcement Division
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

    Glenn Moates
    Asssitant Chief, Boating & Law Enforcement Division
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

  • 7.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-15-2020 06:52 PM

    We use those quite extensively in our agency.  Love them.  I think we got them direct from Mustang using their government purchase program.

    Officer Scott Eveland, #782

    Conservation Officer, NGPC Law Enforcement

    Lancaster County

    NOTE NEW NUMBER SEPTEMBER 2019:  402-853-3273

  • 8.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-17-2020 10:15 AM
    Edited by Robert Rovetto 02-17-2020 10:19 AM

    If you're not set on low-profile and high bodily movement, consider hybrid types--inherent bouyancy + inflatable.

    I have two types: a hybrid of inherent bouyancy + manual inflation that can be used in and offshore, and a type V inherent-only rescue vest.
    The former is good because it guarantees bouyancy in case of unexpected immersion and heavy-weather conditions.
    The latter is good for the same.

    Those are not specifically for LE, so they may be too bulky for your needs, but you may find something.

    Robert Rovetto
    Help others succeed and you will
    Seeking Opportunities in Maritime Safety/SAR. Will relocate anywhere.
    Looking for small-boat operator jobs in any sector (single-prop, up to 36 LOA)
    Looking for any maritime SAR training.
    Able to teach basic seamanship, basic SAR boat ops, and boat crew essentials.
    Able to write grants, training manuals and study guides, PPT presentations, and papers.


  • 9.  RE: PFD preferences

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 02-17-2020 12:31 PM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    With the disclaimer that this is from a recreational perspective, the offshore sailboat racing community has done a ton of exploration comparing options.  When on deck, in a storm, at night, don't assume things are less demanding than what you may face.   Considerations for inflatables are you want them to inflate when you need them, you don't want them to inflate when they'll be in the way, and do you want things like an integral safety harness.  The critical thing with inflatables is learning their capabilities and regularly testing.  If you decide on inflatables, sail racers have had probably a dozen seminars in the past two or three years on the differences between inflatables and how to inspect and maintaining them.  Absolutely work inspection and maintenance into your program.   Hydrostatic seems best, but in some conditions, foam might be better.  I don't know what your needs are for ballistic protection and how those would fit and wouldn't presume to guess.

  • 10.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-18-2020 09:40 AM
    We've used the Mustang HIT inflatables going on 10 years now and haven't had any issues and the officers like them because it gets so hot here and they don't interfere with movement.  If you're interested, I'd reach out to Steve Chambers or another Mustang representative and they can provide you with dealers in your area.  We use Tom's Dive and Swim ( just because they are close and prices are very reasonable.

    As with anything if it's not comfortable, officers won't wear them.  Good Luck.

    AR Game & Fish Commission(501) 223-6379

  • 11.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-18-2020 01:23 PM
    Our agency issues the Mustang Hit as well as the Sterns Kayak style and for colder weather a Sterns float coat. We have been using the Mustang for at least 10 years and have no reported failures. The Sterns Kayak style is issued so that the officers badge and name plate are visible.

    Charles Vernon
    Maryland Natural Resources Police

  • 12.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-22-2020 08:26 AM
      |   view attached
    First Watch is one of our industry partners.  All of their products were designed by maritime operators, incorporating many functional advancements.  They also have a clothing line, H20 Tac specifically designed for law enforcement and first responders.  They offer special pricing for NASBLA members.  Last years Order Form is attached.  I will post the 2020 Order Form soon.

    We also recently had some discussion with the USCG regarding the new PFD labels, the new labels mostly do not designate an "impact speed rating".  Our existing Instructor PFD's are rated for 100mph, which means you can be ejected from a vessel at 100 mph and the PFD will stay on your body.  Don't be surprised if you don't see a speed rating any longer.

    Here's what was described regarding speed rating:

    "The change which removed any impact speed rating from the UL 1123 PFD standard more than 10 years ago.  The rating was determined to be largely misunderstood by the public and unnecessary as the test had no failures and was expensive to perform with either a boat or a helicopter to maintain speed over open water.   The consensus of all of the members on the UL Standards Technical Panel for PFDs was that it served no useful purpose and there was no need to replace it because it could actually promote risky behavior.  Many USCG approved PFDs are still out there with the speed rating verbiage on the label if they were manufactured before the change was implemented in their UL file."

    "There was a UL speed rating, but this is no longer done now. This changed several years back, but you still might see PFDs that are sold with speed rating labels. The reason for this is the manufacturer hasn't changed their labels because nothing else has changed on their PFD that would require them to be looked at for their CG approval number."

    There is also much discussion now regarding neutral buoyancy.  The CG has changed their inflatable CO2 cylinders to a "half-charge" of 15-17 grams.  This allows the boat crew in a cabin boat to egress, and then fill the bladder after with the oral inflation tube.

    Neutral buoyancy is also a factor if you are in the water and need to submerge (either due to a vessel that may hit you, or to disengage a combative PIW, tactical situation etc.

    Ross Johnston from First Watch recently asked this question, "On that subject – is there a need or potential to reduce or eliminate the need for duty belts on marine officers? Just wondering if there's a way to move gear away from the belt and up to the upper body in a combination life jacket and utility vest. Thanks for any opinions you may have."  There are some manufacturers doing this already with a Molle ballistic integrated vest, eliminating the need for a duty belt.

    Hope this helps!



    Ross Johnston

    General Manager Firstwatch Gear

    Home Office

    33 Biehn Dr, Kitchener, ON



    Corporate Office:

    Pacific Quest International LLC DBA Firstwatch Gear

    1141 Ringwood Court, Suite 130

    San Jose, CA 95131 PH) 800-728-0704




    Dave Considine
    BOAT Program Director
    Cell (978) 314-1839
    Office Direct (859) 225-7375


  • 13.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-23-2020 09:12 AM
    Hi Ken,
    I'm with FirstWatch. Our FW-38PRO inflatable is a 40Lb buoyant vest. Most inflatable vests are 35Lb. This provides an additional 14% flotation for users with extra gear. Picures below.

    Available in Black or OD Grn/Black.

    It's designed to fit over the shoulders and reduce stress at the back of the neck. The vest fits well with body armor - as you can see from the attached images - belts and yoke are positioned high enough to allow easy access to duty belt & armor pockets. Each vest has mic loop and MOLLE on the front cover.

    The vest has the Halkey 1-F (single point arming indicator) inflator. This means the green indicator insures the C02 bottle is filled and a bobbin is in place. The bobbins must be replaced within 4 years of manufacture - but we recommend within 2 years for professional users. The Rearm pack (38 Gram Bottle and Bobbin) is less than $30 each.

    We can supply your Agency name Velcro back patch in one -color or 3M reflective. Please allow about 3 weeks.

    Dave Considine provided you NASBLA Member Price of $154 (Auto) - this is in effect until March 15th. 10% of the sales value is returned to NASBLA BOAT - to support the team's great work.

    The vests are in stock and can be shipped immediately.

    Ross Johnston 519-591-5055

    Ross Johnston
    General Manager
    First Watch

  • 14.  RE: PFD preferences

    Posted 02-23-2020 01:22 PM
    We have been using the Mustang HIT for years with excellent results. They are expensive however probably the best on the market. As an alternative we are exploring the First Watch Pro Auto vests and are bringing some in for evaluation. The cost is about half of the price of the Mustangs and have a couple features that Mustang does not.

    Brad Armstrong
    Senior Officer
    Kern County Rangers
    Marine Enforcement Unit