We are constantly told in NSW, Australia that we need a pocket knife, pen and paper, at least five litres of drinking water, food, medication if required, length of rope, lighter, torch, compass.. the list goes on.  These are things we are not provided with but are required to lug around in the moutains or the bush in addition to all of the PPE provided and tools required for the job.  Can anyone share with me and others the best methods for storage of these items and how they manage to carry all of this stuff around without it impeding their movement.

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Fire shelters are an Aussie invention -- started back in 1958. Here's a brief history: http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/fire_shelter_history...

The new shelters are supposed to be pretty effective. I think your idea of being aware and using common sense goes a lot further than some hi-tech Shake and Bake gizmo that you use after you screwed up. But, it is good to know that you have one last option, if you at trapped.

Our regs do allow cotton clothes, but all the professional crews and most vollies use Nomex -- it's safer and it lasts a lot longer. A few organizations are experimenting with PBI clothes, but that stuff is really expensive.

Most crews experiment with filtering face masks. Here's a discussion: http://fire.feric.ca/36122007/SmokeInhalation.htm There are a lot of "smoke masks" on the market. I'm not sure that they do much good, but they might.

Your problems with GPS and radio are universal, as far as I know. On big fires, the States and Feds bring in nifty communications systems that work pretty well. But, on initial attack and the first 24 hours of any fire, you make do with what you have. If communications are sketchy, you adjust your operations to stay safe-- the common sense element that you mentioned.

On wildland/urban interface fires, the problem tends to be too many radio systems that don't work together. That's just as frustrating as radios that don't work in the back country, maybe worse.

But, FF is about adapting to each situation, and staying safe. Your training and experience in urban FF is relevant. The physics and organizational situations are similar. Wildland fire behavior and level of exertion are different, but you handle that with training and conditioning. The right equipment makes the work a little safer, but your brain is what keeps you safe and having fun. It's all good.
Hey!! on our department we have all of our bush/forest fire gear in big containers, and put them in a storage place so when we get a forest fire (wich is maybe 2 times a year lol) we just chuck'em in the rescue truck and off we go!
On my department, we were issued a 24 hour and a 72 hour pack. I would throw the 72 hour pack in the hose bed and then stuff my 24 hour pack in a compartment on the side of the truck I was riding. Saves space in the cab and could save your life in the event the truck rolls. Just make sure there isn't flammables (gasoline, diesel, etc) in the compartment that you place your 24 hour pack in. We had a guy light up like a tiki torch after his pack was drenched in gas after a file in his pack punctured a jerry can.
Hello Liz,

Thank you for your discussion a lot of great ideas coming out. I am currently looking at gear bags etc for our Rural Fire Forces here in NZ. (I should say thanks to Vic and others for the translation service, most helpful)

A couple of things: If you get a camel back / water bladder set up make sure you get one with a cover for the mouth piece, nothing worse than sucking on ash before you get your water.

Over here we have "Zimms" they are electrolyte tablets in a tube that you add to your water, get idea from a command and control point of view because it means the fire fighters are effective for longer.

MRE's: you can live on them but they taste like S%^&, When in the army we use to carry tins of baked beans etc (can be eaten cold if necessary) or find canned foods or snacks that you like. Just remember if you are taking food like that you need some way of heating them ie a gas cooker. (more weight and very flammable)

I like the lists broken into Must have, should have and nice to have.

Must have is PPE and what ever gets you home safe at the end of the day be that Compass, courier pigeon or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons). From an authority's point of view if I could afford to buys these for all my crews I would but the reality is I can't afford them.

I work on the basis of what gets me and my crew home safely I take with me, if it is supplied all the better but if I have to I get it myself.

My second priority is to get things that make doing the job easier and more comfortable for me: This includes toilet paper, first aid kit (Triangular bandages and tampax make a good lightweight and flexible first aid kit) etc. (If you are not sure what a tampax is google it LOL)

Even though you guys are in the Western Island of New Zealand our fuel types (those eucalyptus trees you have over there scare the hell out of me) and risks are different so I would recommend talking to your crew and see what they carry and how.

Have taken some of those ideas suggested here to take back to my team to look at for our guys and girls.

I hope things are better this year than last for all the Aussie Fire Fighters ............ Stay safe out there
I agree with everybody on here I carry about 45 lbs. (20.5 kg) in my pack. This does not include my radio, hose pack, wildland tools, knifes, compass, IRPG (Incident Response Pocket Guide), writing utensils, and paper. I usually carry a gallon of water and some purification tablets so I can grab water from any source I need. I carry fussees or some kind of fire starting device. A couple rolls of 3/4in. (20mm) hose. Extra hose adapters and 3/4in. nozzles. Multiple guides, maps, and our IAP (Incident Action Plan) for the day. I carry food, water, snacks, flagging (plastic tape stuff to mark off areas of interest or hazard), mirror, belt weather kit, space blanket, and a long sleeved shirt, head lamp (torch), and about 50ft. (15.24m) of P-cord.

This is just some of the stuff I can remember off the top of my head that I carry on me. Oh, I have a camel bak and 4 quarts of water.

As to impeding your movement you just have to get a good pack. The weight will impede your movement and so will all that stuff but I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Most of the stuff I carry though is practical and I have used multiple times. We just practice with the weight. We go hiking with all our stuff on starting in March and April to get back in the swing of things and get back in shape from a winter of not fighting wildland fires (brush fires) here in California.
I've never had this problem, as I am a firm believer that fighting a fire without a truck is retarded, hahaha. Things are a fair bit different over here in the Wild-West tho (other Aussies will know what I mean, haha). When I was a bushie, many many moons ago, we never left our truck, pure and simple. This meant everything we needed to take with us lived on our truck. Only extra things I would carry (aside from the usual kit) is a 2L camelbak, a good knife and a half face respirator.
Liz, I haven't waded through all of the responses, but one thing to consider for how you carry your gear is if you are going to work close to a fire or not.

If you work close to the fire, you want to avoid carrying anything with flammable fuel (cigarette lighter) and you want to avoid any pack or web gear made from nylon or other artificial fabric that easily melts or burns. That unfortunately includes Camelbaks and most similar hydration packs.

If you're not working near the fire, then those two things don't matter.

Camelbak makes hydration packs with small pockets that can carry energy bars, spare gloves and bandanas, a light source, etc.

Another tool that is helpful is a machete or large knife (K-bar or survival knife) if you are in places with heavy underbrush.

A water-filter/hydration bottle system is also a good thing to have, due to its ability to stretch your water supply if you have a fresh water source such as a stream or lake.

I also carry a multi-plier, a compass, and a small, lightweight first aid kit when remote from the vehicle.

Another item to consider is a rain poncho or other lightweight wind/water layer. It's handy if the weather turns bad.

Instead of a pocket torch, consider a helmet torch like a Petzl Duo or similar hand-free light. Spare batteries for the torch and chem lights are good and the chem lights don't require batteries.
Get a TrueNorth wildland pack. They are for that kind of work. I use a Coaxer pack it is about $250.00 (US) and I can get everything I need in it and still take some of the compartments off if I need too. They do have alot of differnt packs made just for wildland firefighting (brush fire). From your brother in the Texas Forest Service, Weildland Firefighter.
Sounds like wildland firefighting? If so the 'supply cache inc.' has lots of gear to store your gear. I'm sure my areas of bush are not the same as yours...however, ruck sacks, duffle bags..etc. I understand your point, however I still defer to the above mentioned site. They may also be able to direct you to another site, more suitable to exactaly what you need.
Camelbak make a fire-retardant version... I got a slim-line version that still holds 2L but can be worn under my turnout gear.
They make many versions that are not fire-retardant, including some of the high-viz models and virtually all of the ones with the extra gear pockets.

It is important to avoid wearing the ones that melt and burn for direct woodland or WUI fire attack.

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