Yesterday morning the tones dropped for an accident with injury with smoke coming from under the hood.  I jumped up to put my boots on and my 8 year old son ran over to the coat rack, pulled my coat off (It's a 5.11 reversible with black on one side and ansi class III reflective on the other) and started pulling the sleeves through to put the reflectivity on the outside and brought it to me.


Last night the tones dropped for another department, he didn't know if it was us or them so he and my 11 year old daughter jumped up, started waving their arms in the air and cheering "Go Dad!, GO Dad!, Go Dad!". 


I once ran out of the house for a call and forgot to turn the reflectivity out on the jacket.  My son actually made my wife call me because he knows that I'm safer on the scene with the reflectivity out.


I don't feel like I'm a hero or anything.  I do this because I want to serve my community,  I do it because I am physically capable of being there for others when they may not be physically capable of helping themself, I do it because I enjoy working in intense, high pressure situations.  But I don't think any of those things compare to the feeling I get when my kids look at me and I can see in their eyes and actions that I do really get to be seen as their hero.



Eric Gregory 

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Nothing bullyish about your reply. I appreciate the concern and you've given me something to think about there. Right now I have zero patient contact since I am not a Certified First Responder. The only exception to that rule would be if I was at the scene before the medics or a firefighter who was a CFR and had to apply pressure to control bleeding or something of that nature. I haven't encountered that situation yet so It's not an issue now. Most of the time if I do end up getting close enough to the vehicle to have patient contact I'll be wearing bunker gear anyway.

As I move on and get my CFR and begin to have patient contact I'll have to reconsider storage of that coat. Thanks for the advice.

Todd, You're correct, it is a non-turnout jacket. My primary reason for purchasing it was visibility in the roadway in scenarios where I am not in turnouts such as doing traffic control. On the one side it's flourescent yellow and blood would show up easy, on the reverse it's black and might be a little harder to see.
What a great post , after reading about fires, bus accidents, etc etc ,this was really refreshing, and every little bit of support from family helps us all keep doing our job,even if it is the wife telling me to drive safe and be careful, those words alone make me be as safe as i can and come home to her.
Good for you. Kids are great.
Part of your story is heart warming and a fun read for those out there, including myself that are in the dad mode. However, the component of your story where you describe your PPE, hanging inside your house that prompted me to note that while this may be a commonplace ritual for volunteer firefighters, the potential exists for secondary contamination, even when dealing with very tiny, non-detectable things.

The key difference here between children and adults getting exposed to anything is that we are done growing. That's pretty much it... Impacts from chemicals, bloodborne pathogens, etc. on a child needs to be thought more along the lines of your child not being a child but a small biological unit with multiply dividing cells at a phenomenal rate. If you doubt this, just go away for a couple of weeks on a campaign fire and return to see your kids changed somehow...

It's tiny exposures over a period of time that are just as dangerous if not more so when children are exposed to anything. I shudder when I see a well meaning parent letting their child help them pump gas. The child not only gets dermal exposure but also, at head level, is breathing in the vapors and invisible mists associated with fuel dispensing.

There's tons of stuff out there now on the internet, and yes, this is much different that hanging your PPE in your living room but... if you were able to speed up the time process, little exposures to anything foreign is not a good thing. I share this with you because you love your kids and often times, folks do things because no one ever told them otherwise. I care about you and your kids, and others reading this post. I hope you don't take offense to what I am sharing here brother. It's pure risk verses benefit in my mind and it's never worth risking a child's health, regardless.

Benzene and the link with Childhood Leukemia

A strong correlation between childhood leukemia and proximity to gas stations, refineries and automobile traffic has been established by multiple research studies.

France’s national research institute recently published a study of 280 children with acute leukemia. Two-thirds of these children were 2-6 years old when diagnosed. The study found that children living near gas stations were four times more likely to have contracted leukemia. These children were seven times more likely to contract Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Children living for longer periods near a gas station experienced higher rates of leukemia.

Another study in England tracking 22,458 children who died from leukemia or solid cancers found that higher rates of childhood leukemia is associated with living near distributors and industrial users of petroleum products.

A Journal of Occupational Medicine published in 1984 study found that infants whose fathers work at gas stations, a high-exposure occupation, have a higher observed susceptibility to develop acute leukemia. Compared to children of unexposed fathers, children whose fathers were occupationally exposed to benzene and alcohols used in industrial products were nearly 6 times as likely to develop leukemia if the exposure occurred prior to the pregnancy.

Exposure in proximity to gasoline service stations

According to OSHA, the legal exposure limit for breathing benzene is 1ppm in an 8-hour period and 5ppm in any 15 minute period. Exposure to benzene at gas stations can range from 1 – 32 ppm. Gasoline station workers and their families are at risk for exposure to benzene. Customers of gasoline service stations may be significantly exposed even within the confines of their vehicle. People who live in proximity to gasoline service stations are also at risk. Residential exposure has been observed at levels of up to 6.6 parts per billion (ppb) in outdoor areas that are in close proximity to gasoline service stations.

Families living near gas stations or other petroleum product industries can experience long-term effects without ever having short-term effects because repeated long-term effects can occur at levels not high enough to make you immediately sick. This is especially true for children or people who are already ill.

One recent study showed that when gas stations use benzene vapor recovery equipment, attendants have reduced post-shift automobile accidents (less drowsiness and confusion from exposure). The use of vapor recovery devices greatly reduces their level of exposure to benzene.

It all means cancer down the road, lower test scores, respiratory compromise, and a bunch of other potential things no matter how you look at it. Exposures take 20-30 years to manifest depending upon genetic makeup etc.

Bottom line, leave your PPE somewhere other than inside the house, regardless. The garage would be better place in my opinion, just sayin'... To not do so is playing russian roulette with your kids health (my opinion) and after reading this, you probably will question how you store your PPE in the future.

For more chemical exposure information for children, check out the Red Cross Chemical Chemical Exposure page.

Hi Mike I do appreciate the concern. I also want to point out that this is not bunker gear and as I am not certified for it I do not have patient contact. If i'm near a fire or any kind of direct operations with a vehicle at a scene such as extrication than this coat comes off and I am in bunker gear.

The bunker gear is kept in a gear bag in the rear of the vehicle separated from the kids. It does not come into the house unless I'm checking it over after use or cleaning it and letting it dry, then it's in the basement/garage away from them.

I'm talking about regular coat here, not a bunker coat. The specific coat in question can be seen at . It's not worn in any proximity to flame or products of combustion and I have no direct patient contact. This coat will never be worn around flame or products of combustion, the only thing that will change is when I become a certified first responder I will have patient contact. At that point I'll have to reconsider storage of this coat and if it will be a daily wear item like it is now for me.

Thanks again for your input.

Eric, thanks for sharing that. : )
Thumbs up!

Very Very Cool!!
Ok... now that you have clarified the storage and use issue... never mind... but still, your response was stellar Eric. You have done an outstanding job defining the appropriate methodology and protocol for others to follow (in case they are not...) in regard to the storage and PPE selection information you shared. Between just our two responses, readers now know:

• you are an awesome Dad, with kids that truly look up to you, for doing as LAFD says, "angels work".
• the hazards associated with kids verses adult chemical exposure
• exposure potential at automobile gas stations
Red Cross Chemical Chemical Exposure
• common sense approach to storing firefighter PPE @ home
• and finally... that's one BRIGHT jacket! :D


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