What is everyones feelings on the direction firefighting gear is going and all the government regulations put on us as firefighters and or equipment. I am only 25 yet i find ourselves pushing the limits of our capabilities. I myself am all about tradition and if i had it my way I would be wearing 3/4s and a long coat. And no don't wear a hood because I feel now a days thats the only way of knowing the crap is hitting the fan before its to late.
I was to a week end school back in '74 or '75 and the chief of Pittsburg was teaching nozzle useage and taking crews in the basement of the burn building, with real class "a" material buring, and had a 30 min. air pack on. Now he wasn't humpin hose or anything but he took the crews in and out and when he was out he kept the pack on and kept breathing. He ran out of air between 40 & 45 minutes. He had been to the Smoke Diver Course in Florida which was pretty new back then. Yeah air management works.
I almost forgot. I agree with my brother about hoods. These idiots that think because they have that little sock over their heads they don't need to put their collar up or their ear laps down are asking for trouble. I'm better protected without a hood and my collar up and ear laps down than they are with just their sock! And one other thing while I'm on my soap box. You people that crow about the Not For Practical Application should remember that those standards are a minimum standard. And one other thing. Where I work they just got 10 new sets of gear in. Meets all the standards. The damn collars are only half the size of the collar you see on the gear I'm wearing in my picture. THINK ABOUT IT. WHAT DO YOU WANT? A half of a collar or a whole. Or maybe you don't need it because you have your sock on! By the way. Everyone is talking about years on the job, how 'bout 42.
I read all the post here and myself i'm only 27(been in 9 years) and I've thought of all the traditions we have. Traditions that need to be kept involve the yearly parties and fundraisers we have, the summer picnic, going to firefighter family funerals, taking the trucks to parades and the good natured ribbing we give eachother. I looked around last night at all the tools we have in our firehouse and think about how good some of this stuff is. Take a wooden pike pole vs a new fiberglass one, lighter and its bright yellow handle make it easier to see and use. 45min bottles that are lighterweight and more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. One of my personal faves is with my own air mask, inserts for glasses so when i come down at night withou my contacts in i put my mask on and can see just fine. Gas monitors that tell you to the PPM how much bad stuff is in the air, and the thermal camera to find hot spots without having to tear an entire room apart. High combat speed lines that don't have to be dried out fully to re rack and be ready for the next use.
In short...i love it both. And they each have their place.
I have went back thru and read this post again. There seems to be an new vs old. The younger guys think that just because it is not used or not done that way anymore or does not have NFPA on it, it is not good. It seems that they are bashig the past because someone found a better way to do something with a tool made of a newer material. In the past firefighters used the best they had at the time, just like firefigthers of today use the best we have at this time. Someone commented about using a fiberglass pike pole over a wooden one, well guess what back in the 1700's when the pike pole was invented they did not have fiberglass so they used the best material for the job at the time. Someone else commented about the pompier ladder. There was a problem with the buildings being so close together that you could not use a ladder, so how do you get to the upper floors, solution a pompier ladder. Now most buildings are not that close together so it is a out dated tool. But at the time it was the best they had for the problem. Someone commented about glasses in the mask, that is nothing new I put a pair of glasses in my mask back in the 70's. I think that the younger people don't read books how fires were fought in the past and most don't care, and they should. I think that the old equipment should be taken out and used, not at a fire, not at training, just used to see what firefighters use to go thru. (Maybe they would not bitch about how much a scba weighs.) I feel lucky, I have done a lot of things that can't be done done today, I have used air horns and a punch tape to learn where the fire was (the fire dept. did not have radios or pagers, but it was the best we had at the time), I have used scba with steel bottles not one time but several times at the same fire, I have used a fire pole, rode the tail board on a engine and the running board on the side of a tiller, pumped a hand pumper, rode in an open cab, jumped into and held a net. (I don't want someone to say how is riding the tail board or running board was lucky, it was the best we had at the time.) It makes me think about how lucky we are that we longer have to do them. Maybe if the younger firefighters did this they would think about what past firefighters went thru and not bash them, just feel good that we don't have to do it that way. One more thing. Todays best is just that todays best for tomorrow there will be better, so just stop bashing the past.
I'm on my soap box again. Like I said, I've been in the job 42 years and during that time we had around 100 firefighter deaths a year give or take some. Everyone thinks thats terrible we're killing too many people we're doing something wrong. I agree the deaths are bad. BUT maybe we're doing something right in that the number of deaths have been fairly constant over time. Well you say "the number of deaths seems to be going down." Ok, I'll go along with that. Maybe we're doing something Better. Consider this. We have more fires than any of the industrialized nations in the world, more fire deaths, higher dollar loss, more fire departments, and MORE firefighters. And as to regulations Adam, yes we are regulated to death. Its getting to the point we will need a course in Bio-Haz just to take a dump!
I'm just confused why this has gone on so long. I've only been in the service a short period of time. What is it that people don't understand about full PPE? Our turnout gear is a system designed to work together so we can continue to fight fires and breathe while doing it. You take one part of the system out and it's compromised. Worse yet, you are compromised. Even in my full gear I can feel the heat changes, I've also been trained to read smoke and learned fire behavior. The last two I almost consider an art based on science. A science created by many years of trial and error. All of it a science riding on the backs of alot of fallen firefighters. You love the "old school" ways. Then show those people some respect and wear your gear. ALL OF IT! And quit whining. Oh yeah as Dad used to say "Shut up and listen and learn!".
Please practice firefighter survival techniques, understand fire behavior, and building construction. Those are skills we are losing, to say we are to over protected is a misnomer, we don’t educate ourselves on the above listed topics anymore……I am not saying you’re wrong, I’m saying we need to truly understand the “beast” we deal with and with a strong understanding we WILL know if the building is going to “flash”, but again this is a skill we sometimes lack. Yes when I started the old “hose it the coat trick” was taught, what they forgot to tell us is “oh yea it might filter the smoke (somewhat), but doesn’t stop the super heated air (oops).” Again situational awareness tells us to check our air consumption, if it took us 10 min to get in, it will take 10 to get out, better have enough air, get out before the bell rings.
I know this discussion has raised many different avenues to travel, but the #1 thing we need to remember is us. Keep the real firehouse traditions alive, but as for being non compliant (or “wishing it was the way it used to be”) is part of our history, and let’s keep it that way, but remember it is just that HISTORY. Please to all the brothers and sisters out there, live for the job, but if you do the job right and the job will love you back. Please be safe out there.
In my opinion tradition is a valuable part of our culture and plays a major role in much of what we do however when it comes to safety and personal protective gear I believe our "new age" equipment is keeping many firefighters alive and injury free. On the flip side, I know I push the envelope because we can go in farther and stay longer in hotter environments. This is a training issue with firefighters about our gear and it's capabilities. Many firefighters are not wearing their gear correctly and in return are becomming statistics. Our industry and technology is evolving faster then our culture ever will and we are seeing fire behavior that catches us off guard. My vote is yes for new age but never erase tradition.
John, I think you misunderstood what I was getting at, but then stated it yourself later. Guys back in the old days were tough and hardened because the only way to get things done was the way they knew how. The tools back then were the best they had to work with so thats what they did. We are where we are at today because of the old timers who toiled and slaved hard and long and found better ways of doing things. The original post to me sound like all this new technology is making us forget how to fight fire...when its actually giving us better ways and safer ways to fight fire. I was on a dept that had steel bottles when I got on, and no one before in our dept had ever had glasses inserts so I never knew bout them. Far as using the comment about the pike pole and handles...yes wood was the best and lightest thing at the time and far as i'm concerned still stronger than the fiberglass but the things we have learned from the past lead us to the future. I for one am NOT bashing the past, I was lucky to work with two grandpas that are part of the "Greatest" generation and I do not admire anyone more than I admire those two men, one has since passed on and the other is 89 and still one of the toughest SOB's i know. He has had 30 years on the dept i now serve and we have discussed the OLD and NEW many times, some good and bad of both.
One thing MANY people my age do NOT do is respect the men and women that came before them. Biggest regret I have right now on our dept is many of our 20+ year vets are retiring and with that goes a WELATH of knowledge and experience.
Hope i cleared myself up a bit, that I was NOT bashing the old.