Our packs have aluminum bottles that weigh 21 1/2 pounds. I have been pushing for composite bottles that weigh around 7 to 8 pounds. I believe the weight of the packs are dangerous they cause fatigue. Don't even get my started on working on a ladder they want to pull you over backwards. Crawling the weight wants to roll the pack around you so you must try to keep it balanced in the center of your back. The shoulder straps have to be so tight that it restricts movement. The guys don't want to wear them when they should. Some of the guys that belong to another department that we call for aid from alot will wait on them to show and use there packs.

Everytime it is brought up I get the same old speech on how when they started they had steel bottles and they were so much heavier. So I weighed a steel bottle and they are almost the same. So I get well aluminum bottles are good forever and composite are only good for 15 years. So my statement is if no one wears them what good are they? Then I have been told we don't average 3 to 5 structure fires a year we can't justifiy the cost. I ask about all the car, tractor, combine fires and was told once that they really were not that important on those calls. I just felt like banging my head against the wall.

We have nice trucks, The packs are great themselves radio interface, voice amplification there nice. But why cut corners on the bottles.

Alot of our guys are not young and 11 or 12 more pounds cantilevered on there backs is hard to work with after awhile of working. Its not good to be afraid of your packs and alot of us are. I have tried wearing them loose and tight and nothing helps. I have tried them with composite bottles and they are fine. We have some well fit, paid firefighters that have joined are all volunteer department that say there too much to work in and now will just wait on there rigs to show to pack up.


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My Dept is one of the lucky few, We have a good budget. The problem is the attiudes of the old school guys. We will buy a truck and never think twice about it. But when I ask for training props or composite bottles or even hand tools. It gets rolled eyes and lack of care responces. To me they are as important as a nice truck. I keep preeching what good is a truck if no one will wear a pack or has the tools or knowledge to work with.
I have even try to get them to add a few composite bottles a year. We may have 4 interior firefighters from our dept on any one scene so 8 or 12 bottles would go a long way. We have a cascade system on our rescue so we could keep them filled very easily. We would even have the other bottles to fall back on if needed.

Our old school guys had an engine that would leak all of the water out of the tank because it had holes in it. In their line of thinking I wonder if we some how got a hole in our engines tank if it would be ok as long as it does not leak quite as bad as the old engine. I know they would fix it. So what is the differance?
If you haven't already get to work on grant writing and try to get some free money for firefighter protective gear. That's one of the easiest categories to get approval on. Also, hopefully you have a state agency or program that provides protective gear such as SCBA's either free or at reduced cost?
I tried a grant and was turned down. Is there anyway I can word it so that I can explain why we need the lighter bottles. I tried to explain in short all the things above.
I have pushed hard for a gear washer some have 5 year old gear that has never seen a washer. I was told if I can get a grant for these things they will back me fully with the matching part. So I guess I will keep plugging away. I am a instructor I teach the new guys why these things are important. But the older guys and yes most are the guys in charge think it's not a big deal.
What do your surrounding departments have? If they have the composite bottles then you can write the grant based on interoperability.

Also, like Jim said, contact dealers, get the best deal and then ask them if they can help you to write the grant. Obviously it's in their own interest to help you get a grant as they make the sale and further maintenance.

We switched some years back from MSA and steel bottles to Scott and composite 45's. The pack is lighter and wears much more comfortably, sits on the hip to take more of the weight.

The argument to not wear them because they are uncomfortable will be of little comfort to their families if they were to get caught in rapidly changing situations, not to mention the long term effects and the liability to your department if they fail to follow NFPA standards in the use of SCBA.

Also, I can imagine what neighbors must be thinking, watching your department stand around until your MA department shows up. Likely they won't understand why they're standing around and, for a homeowner who's watching his house burn down while your guys stand watching it, hate to think of the bad publicity and future lawsuit on that.
I agree the MA departments won't use our bottles so they know why. Even if they wanted too are bottles will not work on there packs. We can use there bottles the threads are shorter on are bottles so there fitting will not tighten down and seal. They also will not work with our air tools. We still carry out of date bottles to operate our tools. I am always afraid that a probie will grab one of those off the truck.

I can say the same about wearing them and getting down or having a heart attack. How do I explain to a family that there love one was killed by what was suppose to protect them. Yes we wear them in a have to case but it is hard pressed to find a guy resting with it still on or just on stand by. At the first chance you can find them laying around somewhere on the ground. Where someone has trade out.

The packs are only about 5 or 6 years old other than the bottles they are very nice. I have used a composite bottle on them and they are a dream. Very nice
I have nicknamed them "Yoda" from the part of Star Wars where Yoda was riding around on Lukes back for added weight.
I have worked with steel bottles to composite bottles. You stated the packs are only 6 or 7 years old. While you work on getting new bottles you might try tightening the waist strap more then the shoulder straps. Tightening the waist strap worked even on packs with a steel bottle. This puts the weight more on the hips. Same weight but a little more comfortable. I know the older school of thought was to cinch up the shoulder straps very tight. Newer packs are made for wiast strap to tightened to hold the weight like a back packer. Good luck with trying to change the old tme thinking.
i think that "we" have no room to complain.

Jacob, it has nothing to do with complaining- it's about improving the health and safety of responders. Any initiative that reduces the likelihood of injury has to be a good thing.
I agree.
Besides the price of new bottles is ridiculous.

Firefighters wear bunker pants not skirts. You make due with what you have and don't complain.

In departments I have been around, if someone cannot perform the duties 100% with a pack then they don't get to wear one.

So jacob you think we need two chief officers and no firefighters. I must say we are 100% volunteer and no one is begging to join. From the captain on down to probies are not happy with the bottles.
If my guys are good enough to put in the time for free. At least they can be supported by equipment that can be used to preform the job with less stress. Wow for such a hardline approach you must have alot of volunteers to be willing to cut guys that quick without tring to resolve a equipment problem. Not knocking you but your 19 when your 40 ask yourself if you want any extra weight on your back? We are hunting hard for guys of your age. Most of my guys have had knees replaced or atleast knee damage.

Remember if I get hurt. I may I lose my crops (I am a farmer by trade and alot of our guys are). I lose my crop my family will lose our home it is that simple. I doubt workmans comp is going to cover all my bills. Before my income, My overhead cost has to be deducted.
13 pounds is not much heavier? I could wear two composite bottles @ 8 pounds and only weigh 16 pounds and it would still be 5 1/2 pounds lighter than alumunum bottle.
I am sure not knocking your youth you guys have the brawn. But give that 20 or 30 years and you will be one of us old guys thinking, What the hell are those young guys thinking. Trust me in 10 years the "pup" will be starting to wear off.
Ruger2004 is right no one has ever said no. I would love to wear it the whole time on the fire ground all the time in use or not.
I can tell you that at the soonest possible moment that I can, I drop my pack and helmet (I'll throw my ball cap on instead, unless it's raining.)

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