The family of a deceased member of our department was cleaning out some of his belongings, it has been a couple years since his passing, not a LODD, and gave a helmet to a probie who is a distant relative. A couple of members have told the probie that to wear it would be disrespectful. I have never heard of any tradition that a deceased members gear shouldn't be used. Personally I think it honors the deceased. I would like to hear some other opinions, or insight on any traditions on the use of turnout gear that belonged to a now deceased firefighter.
I'd say go for it. Just remember every time you put the helmet on your head the firefighter that wore it with pride before you! I would find it disrespectful if a department handed out the gear to a probie but since it was a family member I think its paying respect.
To not wear the PPE would be more of an insult to the memory of the deceased firefighter. If I was to follow tradition, I would say that the youngest member of the company should receive the PPE. This way, the spirit of the firefighter lives on and he or she is not forgotten. And it is symbolic having the PPE pass from the old to the new...
PPE in the hands of the family is not the right thing to do. Sharing it with someone who needs help being provided with appropriate levels of PPE is more important coupled with putting one more pair of boots on the ground running so to speak...
John's comments are sincere and should be reinforced, possibly through a ceremony that bestows the PPE to the special someone selected to pass on the tradition and memories of the old PPE and firefighter. A son or daughter involved in the fire department of course would be perfect for this.
Now if the PPE is in bad condition, retire the gear, consider using it for recruit training but don't just put it on a shelf to keep alive a memory. I'm sure the deceased firefighter would prefer something positive happening with his or her PPE, and their memory.
Taking the emotions out of the issue, if the dept bought the gear and issued it, it is completely up to the department to reissue the gear if they wish. If the family is going to make a stink about someone else wearing the gear, then send them a bill for the gear and let them keep it and do as they want. Now I agree with what is stated here and that to inform the person getting the gear the importance of it as a matter of respect, but I don't know if that is really necessary either.
Gear is gear, the person who had it before is gone, whether retired, deceased, moved on, whatever, the gear now belongs to the person wearing it today, should they have to be constantly reminded about the person who had the gear before? Should they have to endure, "gee Ol' Tim there never would have done that", or "you need to live up to what Mike did" and so forth. In a way it is like the new FF would have to almost be the person who had the gear before and that is wrong.
For us, we have had some members die while still on the job, the gear was taken, all indicators or names etc were removed from the gear and it was reissued. There are ways to honor the memory of a person without saying we can't use this gear for anyone else because the family thinks it's disrespectful. Retire the person's number or helmet shield and so forth, remove the indicators of the previous person who had the gear and reissue it.
Diceased FF asside. If that gear isnt issued by my Department or isnt conforming to the appropriate standards it wouldnt be worn anyhow. As to wearing a disceased Ff gear, if the family representing that FF had no problems with it I would issue the gear to another FF. Since the gear belongs to the Department anyhow. it would be laundered an put back in service for someone else to be used.
In my past department, when a member died while on active status, we had the tradition of retiring their accountability number instead of their gear. The only way that the number could ever be used again was if a direct descendant of the member joined the department and chose to reinstate the number. One of my more memorable moments as a chief was being able to hand a grandson his grandfathers tags.
Thank you for your input. To make afew points clear the helmet was not issued by the department, it was personal property. It is in compliance. I think that it may have been more an emotional issue with the two members rather than atradition as they implied.
I think that is nonsense....they were wrong and to dump that onto a probie is just as wrong...you may "retire" his unit designation # but his turn-outs...? It isn't only not appropriate but it is expensive.....go ahead "retire" his shield....but let the kid have the helmet.....Use your head for God's sake......Paul
To make afew points clear the helmet was not issued by the department, it was personal property. It is in compliance.
OK, first off I was under the impression the family was upset about wearing the gear and it is some members. Well in that case, there is even less say from the members, if the family gave the helmet to the relative, and it was personal property and the dept (IE mgmt) is OK with personal helmets, then there isn't anything for them to gripe about. Personally saying the crap they are to a new FF is more disrespectful than wearing a relatives old helmet.
CBz, I never thought about passing the gear down to the youngest member in that aspect. That is a great idea because it will push them to fill the boots of the firefighter that wore the uniform before them with honor.