Ok, I've said it here before and I'm asking, no, begging for an answer for what I truly believe to be a very important question. I am a volunteer, along with a training officer, on a small department in very rural Iowa. We roll about 15-20 calls a year. We are currently in the process of updating our turnout gear and have it ordered to be delivered in about 4-6 weeks for the whole department, which I find to be an achievement as our current gear is approximately 22 years old.
That is what brings me to my question. As one of our three training officers, I find it extremely important to demonstrate proper fire ground tactics and using proper PPE. I usually wear at the very least my turnout pants (that include my gloves and tools) and boots on every call, (which most are field fires I don't find it completely necessary to wear my coat and helmet on a field fire when it's warm out) and structure fires I am in full turnout gear. When I joined the department 2 years ago, gear was not typically worn on any call. I have literally seen my veteran guys going into smoke filled houses in their street clothes with no SCBA or turnout gear what-so-ever.
It was noted at meeting after a structural fire in a large commercial facility (where most were not in gear) in our district about 9 months ago that we should be wearing turnout gear on every roll, to which everyone agreed and applauded at the time. Since then, we have had approximately 8 calls, 5-6 small structure fires including mutual aid. On those 8 calls I would say myself and 2 other members are the only ones who showed up in turnout gear every time, out of an average 7-10 responders.
Tonight, we rolled on a combine fire burning in a harvested corn field. Myself and one other member had gear on, out of 8 responders. The 2 of us were the only ones on the scene which I felt should do any work on the fire, because we were in proper PPE. Our assistant chief was on top of the machine in street clothes, and was the highest ranking officer on scene.
So, how do your departments mandate that members wear gear or get left out at the scene? Especially when the more higher ranking, more experienced members are not wearing gear. Our chief and assistant chief are some of the most guilty of being where they shouldn't when they are not wearing PPE or turnout gear, along with numerous other veteran members who apparently think they don't need it. I know that it's important to lead by example, and I am trying to lead that way considering I am one of the training officers, I am just wondering as a newer member how to correct this problem. I obviously don't want to see anyone hurt on a call and I know I want everyone to go home to their families when we are done with every roll out.
Thank you all for your answers as I'm sure I will get many helpful hints. I apologize for getting a little windy on this but I am very passionate about this issue.
I have been a full-time firefighter since 1989 (and an on-call member fo a differetn department for 3 years prior to that) and I am a huge proponent of full turn-out gear for everyone except the driver. I have found that I personally cannot drive safely and have also seen that turn-outs can impede proper operation of the apparatus while responding. The driver must have his full complement of gear with him and put it on once on scene, but is not requried to utilize his hood unless he feels it is necessary. If a member is entering a compromised atmosphere - either fire or CO exposure - the must be in full turn-outs. But I personally forgot to put on my hood during a signiicant CO response (meter was maxed out and 3 people were signicantly ill) and entered the property to do a multi-level search for more victims (full gear - including airpack - except I forgot to pull my hood up - no heat, no hood) and we proceeded to search and clear the structure. As we were returning to the first floor level a Chief Officer accosted me in the stairwell (no ppe and no airpack) for not having my hood on. My officer at the time palced himself between the two of us because I was in the process of pointing out (with the pick head of the axe) that he had no ppe or airpack at all in an atmosphere that was determined to be over 800ppm of CO due to a malfunctioning heating system.
PPE kept me alive that day even thoguh not worn entirely due to the situation but it is imperative that it must be used at all times
You write a policy and you enforce the policy from the top down.
If the leaders don't enforce it, then no one will follow.
Any leader who allows members in 2013 nd beyond to work a scene of any sort without PPE appropriate to that scene is not a leader. They're a waste of space and a lawsuit waiting to happen.