Every good firefighter knows that to get the job done, they must be prepared for any possible situation or hazard to arise. For this reason, there is a plethora of gear and a range of tools firefighters carry with them to ensure their safety and allow them to do whatever is necessary to keep others safe. If you intend to become one of these everyday heroes, there are 10 pieces of equipment every firefighter needs for any situation.
When responding to an emergency, chances are that visibility will be an issue. The electricity of a building is out, smoke is clouding the various rooms and halls, and there’s a chance you may have to respond to a fire in the middle of the night. A personal light is crucial in creating light at a moment’s notice to maintain visibility.
Furthermore, a firefighter should have more than one light source on them. They should have at least two of three lighting options: handheld flashlights, helmet lights, and a right-angle light. This will ensure you have a backup light on hand. The helmet light is typically one of the preferred options because it provides a source of light without occupying one of your hands and is a bit more stable than the right-angle light will be when clipped to your coat.
Cheap and simple, door wedges are a useful tool that’re easy to keep yourself stocked up on. Doors, more often than not, become significant obstacles during a fire emergency, and wedges are handy for keeping them out of your way. Being able to wedge the doors open will help firefighters manipulate the ventilation flow to any fires and provide clear passage if you must transport injured or unconscious people out of a building.
On average, you only need around six or seven wedges, but they’re small and light enough that it’s a good idea to bring more if necessary.
Extra Flash Hood
Throughout these 10 pieces of equipment that every firefighter needs, you’ll notice that redundancy is a major theme. The flash hood provides protection to a firefighter’s hair and neck from heat and fire without obstructing communication between the team or the view of the firefighter. An extra flash hood is great to carry with you in case your original hood is lost or ripped. Additionally, the hood can be conveniently stored in your helmet as an extra layer of heat protection.
When acquiring a spare flash hood, pay close attention to the make of different models. Certain designs may have specific equipment brands or uses in mind that may not be compatible with your own needs.
Heavy-Duty Work Gloves
All the tools in the world become meaningless if you can’t use your hands. Every firefighter must have at least two pairs of firefighter extrication gloves to keep their hands and fingers safe from burns and becoming unusable. These gloves are robust and armored to protect from physical injuries like cuts, punctures, and abrasions, as well as to shield your skin from the intense heat of the flames. Along with these, firefighters may also have pairs of normal work gloves when responding to vehicle accidents and the when heat protection isn’t necessary. Like the flash hood, extra pairs of gloves ensures you have a reliable backup if your current gloves tear or wear down and are no longer effective.
Some people say that hose straps aren’t necessary, but we absolutely think they are. Nylon hose straps, in particular, are lightweight and easy to store in a pocket for easy transportation and use. The main purpose of a hose strap is to provide greater versatility when handling a charged fire hose. A hose strap can also be used to secure hose lines, stabilize a victim when they’re being moved, and keep doors open and closed.
Another tool used to gain better control over a fire hose, a snagger tool is simply an S-shaped tool with a spike at the end to get a firm bite into the hose. It attaches to the fire hose to provide a handle that makes maneuvering the fire hose so much easier.
Other functions of the snagger tool include removing windshields, smashing tempered glass, or demolishing drywall and ceiling boards with no risk of injury to the firefighter.
As previously mentioned, doors can be a major obstacle for firefighters and it’s not uncommon for them to be locked or jammed. To solve this, a shove knife works to get between the door, frame, and above the latch of outwardly swinging or key-in-knob doors. Once pulled down, the shove knife forces the locking mechanism to open. This is an ideal method as, when done correctly, there is no damage done to doors that could provide other complications.
Multi-tools are a staple of any emergency responder’s kit (and may even contain a pry tool like the shove knife). Multi-tools reduce the amount of gear and equipment you must carry along with your already considerable load, as a variety of tools are condensed into one. This makes it easier than ever to have the right tool on hand for any circumstances that should arise. The only downside of a multi-tool is that you may have to spend precious time finding the right tool if you haven’t taken the time to familiarize yourself with them.
Firefighters are often exposed to high volumes of noise for long periods of time. After a long enough time, this can lead to damage to a firefighter’s hearing which will inevitably become problematic when it becomes difficult to communicate with each other. To protect their ears, earplugs are a necessity for most scenarios.
In such a hazardous profession, it’s always a possibility that a firefighter might end up in trouble and need to save themselves. Escape ropes are meant for this exact scenario so that a firefighter can escape and descend out of a window and make it back to the ground safely. This failsafe is almost always part of a firefighter's main escape kit so that they’re able to save themselves as quickly as possible.