Sheriff's department also has to consider fire as a risk.
As an volunteer EMT in a fire department I NEVER wore synthetics (pants, socks, shirt, t-shirt). 50% poly/cotton is ok (I've worn it with no bunker gear in a firefighting trainer) for heat, but not for direct flame (I really screwed up a shirt burning off irish pennants one day).
The reason for the ban on UnderArmor and like undergarmets in Iraq/Afghanistan (that may or may not still be in affect) is the damage that melting poly clothing does in wounds. It is the same reason that nylon boots aren't allowed aboard Navy ships. While some of these service rules are honored in the breach, they were written in people's blood as early as the STARK incident and the Falklands conflict.
Lori, in your case I recommend approaching the department from a situational perspective - "SAR Volunteer uniforms should be poly (or wool) and if an alternative uniform is approved it should be purchased by the member in a style designed by and approved by the department". You may be able to get around the bureaucracy if you sell them on low cost to the department and departmental control while acknowldging their concerns legitimate safety concerns in other areas.
To help the OP (for whom the above considerations are probably irrelevant) Sears/JC Penny will have pants on sale soon. Last season microfiber or wool pants can go for about $10 a pair if you can find a pair that fits well. I wear the same pair of pants hiking as I do with a sport coat, which amuses me to no end.
Edited by Steadman (09/13/12 09:01 PM)