What do Firefighters carry in their pockets?
Here is a run down on what I like to carry in my pockets at work. There are no hard and fast rules, but if you are new or looking for ideas then I hope this blog post helps you.
I have excluded items that are issued, like Firefighting gloves or Flash hood (in NSW a torch is also issued) and just listed the items a Firefighter has a choice over.
Please note, these items just reflect what I personally carry and are not set in stone, I’m sure everyone has a slightly different approach.
Starting off (*Left to right) of course I always carry a trusty pocket knife, many firefighters choose to carry a multi-tool instead, however when I carried one, I found that most of the time what I used on it was the knife. Then when I did use the blade I felt it was a little unsatisfactory, plus we drive around in a truck full of tools. But there have definitely been times I have borrowed someone else multi-tool pliers. There’s no right or wrong, but some kind of cutting tool is pretty essential.
These are my mini entry tools. A “firefighters key” and a door opener made from an extinguisher pull ring (tutorial may be coming soon). The opener doesn’t work on every door, but when it does it saves A LOT of time and damage. Most memorable use was inside a large office block where the internal doors were remote controlled by computer from another country (Why!!). We were round the whole place by the time the manager had got in touch with them.
I feel the main reason to carry anything in your pockets is to save time, most of these tools help when gaining entry, prior to fighting a fire, rather than during firefighting operations. In my experience the tools I have to walk all the way back to the truck for (and therefore waste time) are a cross head screwdriver and a shifter or socket. So now I just carry small versions of both. Having these in my pocket has definitely saved me some time. Most memorable use of the screwdriver was at a car leaking LPG, in full BA and gloves, (on a stinking hot Australian Summer day!) I was able to get the screwdriver out, tighten the screws to stop the leak without having to walk back to the edge of the hot zone.
The ear protection pictured usually sits inside my helmet head harness, due to the shape it never falls out and I don’t normally notice them in there. Of course ear protection is provided any time loud noise is predicted, ear muffs for using power saws etc, but these are great for when the noise is not predicted. The main use is at 3 in the morning in the sprinkler diesel pump room! Or walking around buildings looking for a fire with the alarm still blaring. Not only do these help minimise any hearing damage, they often help me to stay calm whilst looking for the pump shut off or whatever it is that’s causing the racket. I am often amazed not more Firefighters carry these, or at least don’t put them on. If there was one item on this list I would recommend above all else it would be these. (then buy a knife ;-) )
The other Orange thing is a door wedge, I’ve always carried one or two since working in a district with many high rise buildings. They are great for fire stair doors (I never trust those! LOL) and often I see Firefighters using their helmets to keep doors open if nothing else is readily available…..that’s when I started carrying wedges….helmets are for your head…right? Anyway that is a “Wedge-it” a new style door wedge I’m trialing to see if I like it. In short, it’s awesome, I especially like that you can place it at the middle hinge, almost eye level, which means I’m much less likely to forget it. But it is a bulky shape and a bit more expensive if I do forget to take it back. Still deciding if it is a permanent replacement for my old faithful rubber one.
The final item pictured is my pocket line. Now these are standard issue, but I know over the years a lot of Firefighters lose them, or it gets contaminated and not replaced etc. I know when the call goes out at a job for a pocket line, quite a few people pat their pockets and shrug their shoulders! But I always carry one, they are useful in countless situations, most recently it has been securing passenger doors wide open for rescue access at vehicle accidents, but also securing ladders hauling gear, lashing off branches etc etc.
The reason I carry these items is simply to make my life easier and safer. I feel that Firefighters have an amazing ability to find the easiest way to do something (we’re efficient not lazy!!) and these tools seem to work for me.