This is one of those simple forum posts that asks a couple of questions...


  1. How long does it take for you to completely DONN not just your SCBA, but the entire PPE ensemble. 
  2. And for those folks that are speedier than others, what's your tricks of the trade to enable others to duplicate your expediency? 
  3. Finally, how often to you practice donning and doffing your SCBA?

Train as if your life depends on it... because it does!

CBz

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Cap, as always, I'm happy to chime in on your post. The quickest I have completely donned my PPE & SCBA is 54 seconds. We train at least every other shift and seeing as I am not the biggest guy in the world, it has never really been a problem for me. The thing that allows me to be consistant is very simple. I practice like I play. My gear is always set up the exact same, be it on the rig or in my truck as a vollie. The movements are the same every time. That is the biggest thing I tell rookies. Other than that, I am just comfortable in my gear. A little practice goes a long way, but if I don't do it right, it doesn't matter how quick I am.
These are juniors in my department http://www.youtube.com/user/Station10Firefighter
Mike,

Many departments practice donning PPE, however I personally don't see it as a real world exercise. When we are dispatched personnel don their PPE in the bay: bunkers, hood, jacket and climb onto the rig. We typically, once seated, are able to slip into the shoulder harness of the harness (rigged in the seats) and then, with everyone belted in we leave and on arrival dismount, tighten the straps, grab tools and go to work.

The whole idea of donning and doffing is an academy exercise designed to develop familiarity with PPE. Anyone should be able to kick off their shoes, step into their bunkers, pull on a hood and jacket in considerably less than a minute. Timed drills suggest a culture of casualness, where people are stymied by all of the PPE. Dispatch chimes in, personnel gear up and the engine leaves. If a person has to think about what they are doing then they should be working at the local ace hardware.
Very accurate portrayal of how it really is. With that said, and for those out there that don't routinely donn and doff SCBA'S, practicing putting things on is a good reinforcement tool to enable familiarity when you need it. It seems pretty consistent to be able to get a SCBA on your back and masked up in less than one-minute.
It was the best photo out there showing in house SCBA donning.
We call these two minute drills, Because if you cant complete it in 2 minutes, you don't graduate Fire School.

Although most of our volleys can get it done much faster. I think the fastest time in our school was just under a minute (although we were the smallest volley class to date (19 graduates) in the county since they started the school.
Something else to think about is donning while en-route to a call. For instance, if you're out pre-planning do you get back on the rig and don your gear while the truck is in motion or does your commanding officer require you to be fully geared out before the truck moves? Similar scenario, the truck is in motion because you are returning from preplanning and you are on the highway. Does the truck pull over or do you don while in motion?

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Staging your PPE next to the engine is a routine we all do. It's when we are not in quarters that donning PPE gets a little tricky.

More than once, I have been in district doing inspections, store run, fuel run, etc. that required donning full PPE, then responding to the structure fire or MVA, both requiring full PPE. I can't think of a time where we actually stopped the engine, got out and donned PPE.

I should mention that in the front Captain's seat, I always kept my turnout boots on the floor in front of my feet and my turnout jacket on to my side for this scenario. Getting out of my leather boots and slipping into my bunkers and putting my turnout jacket on was a little tight and cramped but doable (sp?).

The firefighters in the back have plenty of room to get ready and the engineer can complete securing water only wearing the turnout jacket and helmet without incident. Pulling over is a waste of time but I would not rule it out. Arriving on scene and not having your PPE on compromises immediate actions and makes us look less prepared in my opinion.

CBz
I'll echo Jack's sentiment here, putting the stuff on is one aspect. Like he mentions, such timing does seem to be more of an academy thing, moreso than a reality thing. The issue being about familiarity vs speed. Truth be told, you are not being timed during the actual call. I for one am not a proponent, nor fan of masking up prior to being on scene, but one should be ready to go when they do depart the rig.

As such most drills based in timing, tend to reflect how fast one can do their PPE. OK, great....now use it. So because one dons their PPE in a minute, do they know how to buddy breathe? Do they know how to emergency fill? Can they take their pack off (to go through a confined space) and put it back on...in the dark? Can they make a low profile as needed? Can they get through a stud wall without having to take the pack off? Can they operate all aspects of the pack in the dark? Blindfolded?

I agree with Jack, the speed timing is really a fire academy thing, but there is much more to the pack that should be routinely trained on. Putting the equipment on is one thing...operation is another. Focus on the operation moreso than speed.
Something else to think about is donning while en-route to a call. For instance, if you're out pre-planning do you get back on the rig and don your gear while the truck is in motion or does your commanding officer require you to be fully geared out before the truck moves? Similar scenario, the truck is in motion because you are returning from preplanning and you are on the highway. Does the truck pull over or do you don while in motion?

Depends and it involves individual circumstances. I can say I have been on numerous calls where I had to dress out enroute to a call. It depends on the rig too, we have some with lap and shoulder belts and some lap belts only. Obviously the lap belt only are easier for dressing (put your bunker pants on, pass the suspenders through the belt and don your coat, SCBA straps etc. However, there have been a couple times you finished donning on scene too. Really there is no reason to stop a rig en route to don PPE, because what difference does it make? Pull over and don and arrive on scene later, or arrive on scene earlier and don at the scene? Whereas if you got some personnel donning enrout (even buckled) there is much more that can be done on scene awaiting other to dress out.
Donning and doffing while responding to a call can pose some safety issues first all fire fighters are required or should be buckled in before the truck moves and while the truck is in motion secondly I believe that NFPA requires that helmets not be worn while the truck is in motion, that they be secured while the truck is in motion in the cab or secured in a compartment.
Equally as important or even more so is not just getting your gear on fast but that everything is done up properly the focus shouldn’t be on how fast you put your gear on but that you put in on making sure all buckles, snaps, clips and velcro is done up all exposed skin is covered, SCAB straps are tucked in etc
Let’s be safe out there it’s important that we get to a call fast but it also important we do so with the safety of our firefighters in mind.
1:15 is my fastest time at work. We also are required to donn a GutBelt during this drill. My Captain has done it in 58 seconds.

Develop muscle memory by doing it the same way EVERY time.

Practice? One time before the donning drill.

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