By J.R. Dennison
of the Leatherhead Instructors
What is in your pockets? This may seem like a simple question and perhaps something you have never given any thought to. Through a RIT class last fall, I found that not only is it important to know what is in your pockets and the location, but it is equally important to know what is in your fellow firefighters’ pockets…
I have always thought that whatever tools/gear I may need on the fire or rescue scene should be in my pockets, but through training I have reconsidered some things. I used to carry 50′ of bailout rope, extra fire gloves, rescue gloves, utility gloves, webbing, door chalks, a flashlight, and wire cutters. I found that, in many conditions, these items created additional bulkiness to my gear and hindered me in many ways while engaged in the job. I, as many of you do, carry a mask bag with me to protect my SCBA mask. This bag has additional room inside for the things that I want on the scene, but do not need in my pockets. I carry extra fire gloves, utility gloves, a hazmat reference guide, and anything additional that I feel is important to have at the scene with me. The bag is left in the cab of the truck when I exit, but it is only a short walk away if I should need any of these items.
I re-evaluated the necessities after the RIT class. I decided that carrying webbing or rope, (2) wire cutters, rescue gloves, fire gloves, a door chalk, a flashlight, and a radio are all that I need in my gear. I have a clasp on the right exterior of my coat that holds the flashlight, a left chest pocket for my radio and mic, a left arm pocket to house my webbing that is set up for a one handed deployment, waist pockets on my coat for my gloves, a door chalk, and one pair of wire cutters, left and right pants pockets for bailout rope, rescue gloves, and my second set of wire cutters.
Why two sets of wire cutters? During the RIT training, I realized that many times you cannot get to your pants pockets to retrieve the wire cutters, but you can get to your coat pockets. Other times it was vise versa; therefore, I now carry (2) wire cutters one located high on my body and one located low. It is equally important to know what types of tools and the location which they are kept in the gear of your fellow crew. Imagine that you and your partner are trapped in an entanglement: you cannot get to your tools, but your partner is within reach. If you know where his or her tools are kept you have a better chance to get you and your partner out of the situation and to safety.
If you are looking for something to do on an inclimate day, pull your equipment out of your pockets, organize what you need, and encourage your others on your shift or department to do the same. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the others’ equipment location so that, if the situation arises, you are familiar with the tools and their location to mitigate the problem.
Stay safe and train hard!
Learn more from the Leatherhead Instructors on their site.