What have ya'll done to get a better grip on your tools? Tools such as your axes, halligans, sledgehammers, etc...

Thanks for the input.

Views: 2164

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Not that I am an expert but wouldn't there be a problem modifying a tool from the original manufacturers specifications? Or is it just large municipal or county fire departments that have that concern.
Example: C shift engineer modifies a tool so it grips better. Some time passes and A shift responds to a fire where, as a result of using the same tool, an injury occurred. The question comes up if the tool had ever been modified. You see where this is going...
Purchase tools that meet your needs. You should not have to modify a tool just to make it work for you. If the tool does not exist, manufacture and market the tool yourself. Just don't forget to cut me in...

That sir is an excellent point. The reason I'm asking is because we were thinking of putting something on the handle of say an axe for better grip. But you have just opened a whole new topic of discussion. There are other departments around us that have modified their tools. But I guess, like every book you ever read, go back to the manufactures guidelines. Excellent point!

My career FD uses small engine starte rope that we wrap around the handle and then cover with friction tape.  This improves the grip without affecting the actual tool or its usage.


I don't want to start an argument here but the fear of liability over something this ridiculously simple is crippling not only the fire service, but the United States as a whole.  There are numerous blogs and fire related websites that show a variety of ways of improving the GRIP on fire service tools.  Some with rope and tape, some with varnish and cat litter, heck we used to file notches in the wooden handles of our pike poles for better grip. 

Glue some sand paper to the handle where you normaly grip the tool, this helps especially in the winter months when the tool is wet/icy and your trying to use it. 

Also, I used to play hockey, and we would wrap the tape on the handle in a certain way to make a better grip, sort of like what was mentioned with the engine starting rope with tape around it, it creates ridges that the fingers can easily grasp better.

I wouldnt think that applying something to the surface of the tool like that would cause concern for manufacturers.  Altering the physical form and function of the tool would, like drilling holes into the handle of an axe or sledge to tie rope to it, or grinding down the adz of a halligan or the head of a sledge to make a modified tool...that sort of stuff I believe would be a concern.  What do you think Mike?

From a Truck standpoint, we take our tools and our pride very seriously.  We use small engine pull start rope and we criss cross it up and down the middle of the shaft of the tool and then we cover that with hockey tape.  We do this to all of our hand tools on the Truck and then for accountablility and Co pride, we wrap colored duct tape around the handles as well so everyone knows that these are our tools and if you touch them, trouble for you.

You have to take what I say with a grain of salt unless you are from the west coast or a large municipal department. Smaller departments like Don's for example have only three stations and serve about 47,000 people. Life is simpler with smaller departments. My department can't make a move without county counsel getting involved sometimes. They made us take all stickers, photos, names, etc. off our fire helmets because a firefighters was burned from melted plastic and sued his department, and won. We are our own worse enemies sometimes. 

If you are going to modify a tool, which makes total sense, then you you have to do it smart. Every department should have an equipment/apparatus committee. The modification to any tool needs to go through this committee first, then the committee can make the recommendation to accept the change or modification and make it department policy, which is a nod of approval and something that protects a firefighter from any sort of liability because the department bought off on the modification, even if it resulted in being contributory to injuring someone or whatever negative thing that results. 

To make a change, on your own still doesn't make sense to me unless you are making a prototype to use, with the blessing of the department and the other shifts involved. If you are not willing to play this game, then I still think it's better to not make any changes. You need the protection of the department because if something goes wrong, the folks who were affected won't be very nice about anything. Another case of a pound of prevention equalling a ton of cure.

My area and department serves over a half-million people with 16 stations in just the unincorporated areas with close to a three hour drive to get to our furthest station in north county to the coast. When you are a big department, and especially being in California, legal awareness is very much part of being a company officer. You are suppose to watch out for any potential liability to your agency and county. My responses here reflect that built in paranoia... If changes are made, they should be standardized for all equipment.


We use hockey tape on our Haligon tools and pike poles. We don't use rope, we lay a layer of tape and the twist the tape and spiral it along the shaft of the tool and then a second layer of tape over it - like doing a hockey stick.

Does Firefox tape or paint help or hurt "gripabilty" of tools?




I understand what you are saying, IF IN FACT you are modifying the tool, such as changing the thickness or angle of the adze on a Halligan.  But putting tape on the handle of a tool does not permanently change anything on that tool.  If you need to get county counsel permission to put tape on the handle of a tool I seriously pity you guys in California because that is just plain ludicrous.  Do they tell you which way the toilet paper has to come off the roll? 


Further, I find your insinuation that a smaller career department can freelance doing anything they want to equipment very insulting.  We are every bit as professional about our job as you believe you are.  We just don't live in the land of granola where the government believes they have to tell you every single move you make every day.


Frankly, the fact that your county is so big it is 3 hours from one end to the other is irrelevant to the topic.  The fact is clear, California is the land of over-regulation to the point of ridiculous liability paranoia over putting some tape on the handle of a tool.  We had this discussion before about paradise, well that type of control to me is more like a Gulag than paradise.


Still glad I live where I do.  Where common sense isn't legislated, yet.

Does using the hockey tape on handles make a significant difference in the grip of your tools? My fd doesn't do anything to our grips nor do any other depts in the area that I know of but I'm curious to how much it helps out?

Also, when you say you twist it, I'm guessing you mean to simulate a piece of rope then tape flat over that?

Thanks, Nate

Yes, the twisting of the tape has the same effect as using rope under tape.

As to the delta in the grip, yes I believe it very much enhances the grip, and it also gives you much better control of the tool, especially while wearing firefighting gloves, and more so if your using the tool under wet conditions, such as in the rain. Think about having to twist a plain steel bar that is wet, versus twisting one with grip tape on it.

We re-do the tape about every six months, and is well worth the effort, in my opinion.


Further, I find your insinuation that a smaller career department can freelance doing anything they want to equipment very insulting.

Why on earth would you find this insulting Don? It's the truth. You have more freedom to make changes because there is less bureaucracy involved, if none at all. This has nothing to do with being professional. You threw this one in here. Don't know why you have a tendency to get so pissy sometimes. I'm not purposely poking you or messing with your head buddy.

If my analogy about the distance from one station to another pissed you off, sorry. I was just trying to make a point as far as having so many fire stations, so far apart necessitating every fire engine to be completely standardized, and this includes any and all modifications to tools. That's not being over regulative, it is more dealing with someone from another station bitching that all the tools aren't the same. Big department means more bullshit sometimes.

Before you make a change to a tool Don, do you have to go through committee first, and get approval? We do. We have more bureaucracy than you do. The creativity has been sucked out of many of us but not "smaller" departments that can rule by common sense. I am not defending my world, just talking about it.

Trust me Don, your department is more like family where people work together because they are part of the community. Worlds apart for where I work. No one can afford to live here and often times commute long distances. Totally different mind set. Maybe that's why some guys go ballistic when they come on duty and see that someone wrapped tape or something else on one of the tools. I personally was one of the Captains who could give a damn. If it makes the job easier to do then go for it. Unfortunately, I got beat up more than once doing what you would immediately identify as common sense.

I would have much preferred going through my career working in a great place like you do where you can go fishing and hunting and not worry about the crap we have to. I doubt you have gang problems and home invasions... We do... The views are nice Don, but there is a price to pay for living in paradise and it's not cheap.

So, please don't take offense with anything I say Don. Nothing is intended to be insulting, demeaning or anything else negative. Your the one living in paradise where you can more than likely afford to actually retire without worrying about what new tax your going to get slammed with.

I'm trying to be your friend here Don, have been from the very beginning when I pissed you off about something else. But I question why you are so pitbullish sometimes... I suppose I could engage, do the word attack game but I'm not as skilled as Jack is in this department. Not my purpose of being involved here on the FFN, besides, I actually like you.

Please understand that my experience and what my departments culture dictates is to not do anything to tools to maintain the exact same tool and inventory for each engine company. Does that seem Gulag orientated to you? I don't think so.

Lots of stations means lots of fire engines and lots of ways to do things. This also includes opinions and ways to do things, just like your response to me above demonstrated. We chose to standardize all inventories to minimize the snivel factor with one person liking tape for example and someone else not liking it. God knows you just can't make everyone happy or pleased with your decisions but the topic of making any kind of changes to tools is moot unless first requested, with department permission for a specific stations to use or try something that was thought to be a good idea. If the "testing" station found the change cool, then ALL tools would be modified to make it "better" or "easier" to use. Democracy works... No one gets to strong arm someone else because they are more vocal or aggressive. The silent majority needs to be represented and this is one way to ensure that.

I know this because of my 25-year involvement with my departments apparatus and equipment committee as well as my station being involved in both the design of sixteen engines for example that had to be outfitted and equipped with all the stuff we carry on our engines. Guys work OT at another station, irrelevant I suppose that some do the 3-hour drive... anyway, when they get to the station, everything is exactly the same as any other county engine. I don't really think what we do is out of the ordinary, and never really thought of it as being repressive or Gulag typed... We all have our perspectives I suppose.

From the land of Granola... Merry Christmas Don.




I may be a little touchy on some of these topics, but the large versus small FD comparison just doesn't play out.  Look at the FDNY where they seem to invent, modify, and create new tools all the time.  I would hazard a guess that while all the engines there have some base equipment exactly the same, there are no 2 engines in the FDNY equipped exactly the same.  I would bet the ladder companies fit that guess too.


The taping of the handles of tools has been okayed IF your station wants to do it.  It is not required.  We have a station that modified a sledge hammer to mate with a Halligan bar, not every station has that.  No uproar has been raised over it. 


I live 100 miles and 5 counties away from where I work.  I could never have in the city I work in what I have where I live.  If it was even available the cost would be ridiculously expensive.  I suppose we are more like family because I do know almost everyone on the job.  Milwaukee is right next door to where I work.  While we don't have near the problems they do it does rear its ugly head on occasion.  Where I live, at least at this point we have more wannabes t  hat real gangs but the presence of gangs and drugs are even all the way out here.  They are truly almost everywhere.


Retirement is a new worry here in Wisconsin with our current governor.  he is attacking public employee Unions and for other than fire and police he has eliminated collective bargaining and forced them to make additional payments to their retirement.


I don't want to have you as an enemy here either, but the rest of the country is NOT California.  We are all different and out here we are more free to innovate, experiment, and make changes without months of committee meetings.  Heck Mike, there are many of us that carry our own non-FD issued personal tools.  Things like Halligans, Fubars, flashlights, tools in out turn out pockets like side cutters, linesmans pliers, screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, vise grips, multi-tools, knives and more.  No committees, no everyone the same, pick what you personally want to carry and do it. 


As for rigs being different, when I am detailed to another station I check the rig out that I am assigned to.  I go through every single compartment and I find out where evey piece of equipment is.  I will not assume that that that rig is set up exactly the same, or that exactly the same equipment is even on the rig.


We do all have our own perspective.


From the land of cows and forests.


Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.



Reply to Discussion


Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2023   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service