Ever since I have been at my new station I have gotten this question over and over and well over again. It is always directed to something I carry, or something I am doing on the fireground. Granted I may go a little “above and beyond” the minimum standard but nothing I am carrying in my gear or doing on the scene is unreasonable in fact I feel like it enhances efficiency, and effectiveness.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. Why do you carry all of this stuff? I have gotten this question in a variety of forms, the other day at shift change I even got the “Your own rope bag, really? You know they have rope on the engine right and we can use it search with right?” My response was yea I know I do not use it for that. I then asked how are you going to get out of a window if there is no ladder? I was met with silence and then the typical defensive answer well I’ll slide down the hose line, or jump. I was floored, you telling me that instead of spending a little money and buying a 50 foot bag of rope and a carabiner you would rather jump, or slide down this hose line? I was literally blown away, and just ended the conversation.
Sure I carry a lot detailed here :http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/whats-in-your-pockets/ but I can honestly say I have used everything I carry, several times, and sometimes several times in a shift. I’m not advocating carrying things you may not use but you can not carry nothing. I think a minimum equipment list for an engine company fire fighter is:
at least 20 feet of rope or webbing with a carabiner
cable cutters (or equivalent)
Multi tool (Gerber, Letherman)
Serated blade knife
Several door chocks
These tools will allow you to operate independently in most single family residences on either investigations or fires. The moral of the story is tailor your tools to your response area, but carrying nothing is not an option!
2. Why do you wear you gear so much? I wear my gear on every non EMS call even if I am driving. I do this for several reasons the biggest is our man power. As I have said several times we only ride with 3 on each piece of apparatus, so everyone must be a soldier in order to get the job done in a timely fashion. The bottom line is we are all fireman, and we all do the right thing eventually (even if we do not want to) If you are driving and something needs to get done (throw a ladder, rescue someone from a balcony, push hose into a building) you’re going to do it. However if you are not geared up when/if you get hurt you will not be covered. I know I am always looking for where the action is so I take the what if factor out of it and wear my gear.
One incident that seems to happen over and over again is people not wearing gear on accidents. I have been told several times “the SOG says you do not have to wear gear if your just doing EMS” My question is HOW DO YOU KNOW UNTIL YOU GET THERE!!!!!!! The simply answer is you do not know anything until you get there, so you have to prepare like every one of them is going to be on fire and entrapment. If you get there and you are just doing EMS then dress down. Its a lot easier to ramp down than up.
The facts are folks we NEVER know what we are dealing with until we get there, if it is dispatched as a fire you better treat it like one until you get there and find out it is not. If it’s an accident it has entrapment, and its on fire until you get there and find out it does not. You can always send people back, take your gear off if it’s not needed, however it is very hard to get things going in the right direction when you get “surprised” by what you find. Quite frankly getting “surprised” should never happen especially if we are acting appropriately.
What things are you seeing in your department similar to this? How do you handle it? Any special things you’re doing? Tell us that and anything else on your mind in the comments section. Until next time thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!