Leatherhead Thursday: Multipurpose Gear

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

The fire service revolves around responding to a wide variety of emergencies and non-emergencies; most of these responses require us to wear either a hazardous materials suite or our turnout gear.  The gear that we have can be viewed as overkill in many of the situations that we must deal with, but the simple Nomex or cotton uniforms we wear are just not enough.  What is the solution?

Multipurpose gear is a great tool to add to the toolbox.  Wild land firefighting gear and rescue response suits are offered by several manufactures, but they do not appear to be multipurpose.  Offering a set of gear that has fire protection, comfort, and reinforcements in the most vital places is the next step in reducing firefighter fatigue, while still offering protection.  The lack of a liner system will reduce the weight of the gear for situations other than structural firefighting.

This type of gear would be well suited for extrication, wild land firefighting, and any situation that does not require structural firefighting or bloodborne pathogen protection.  You lose the ability of having necessary protection from structural firefighting and bloodborne pathogens when you remove the lining of the gear, but we already have structural gear and Tyvek suites when dealing with significant bleeding, trauma, or other body fluids.

Customization of such equipment would simply add luxury; as we already have with our turnout gear.  The ability to add reflective striping, department names, and pockets where you wish is a nice touch that adds workability among firefighters.  It is certainly nice to be able to add pockets for tools or gloves, and a clasp for flashlights.

The needs and wants of firefighters is a top priority among safety equipment manufacturers; LION is no exception.  I encourage you to write a letter or send an e-mail to let them know what you are interested in seeing to better our field.

Stay safe and train hard!