In either a career or volunteer fire department, there is an element of being ready to go at any moment. This involves everything from the apparatus to the firefighters themselves. This, of course, includes personal protective equipment. And just as much as the apparatus, it needs to be ready to go at any moment.
Being combat ready involves being in a ready state at all times. The firefighting gear needs to be readied so that firefighters can quickly don it. In a volunteer setting, a firefighter's gear may not be at the truck ready to go, but in a locker along the wall.
Does it have all the required components needed such as the liners installed correctly, the pants and boots set up properly, gloves, flash hood, SCBA face piece if equipped with one, personal flashlight charged, and any other items that are needed? Are they in a readied state for quick and easy deployment?
In a career fire departments and some volunteer fire departments, the gear is usually set beside the assigned apparatus. This allows the firefighter to respond to the apparatus and get dressed quickly, board the apparatus and leave the station for the assignment.
When the firefighter's gear is not set up for quick deployment, it slows down the overall response time and usually leaves that firefighter scrambling to make sure everything is on correctly. In the photo below, you can see a firefighter's gear bag sitting beside the apparatus. This is not what you want to see as combat ready. This is a bad example of what to do.
How about when the assigned shift starts or ends? Is the gear right away pulled out from the locker and set up beside the assigned apparatus or is it done later after other things have been accomplished? When it comes close to the end of the shift, is the gear pre-maturely put back into the locker for a quick exit?
These bad habits all contribute to a domino effect that will eventually lead to a firefighter becoming handicapped on the fireground. Response times are critical when there is an emergency of some type.
Delaying that response time because gear is missing, not assembled properly, not set up ready to go or even put away is only going to hurt the fire department overall and make that firefighter a handicap for that crew.
Be combat ready.
About the author
Mark van der Feyst is a 13-year veteran of the fire service. He currently works for the City of Woodstock Fire Department in Canada. Mark is an international instructor teaching in Canada, the United States and India. He also a Local Level Suppression Instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, and an Instructor for the Justice Institute of BC. You can contact Mark with feedback at Mark.email@example.com.
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David GrubbsWednesday, October 23, 2013 5:44:16 PMI'm with you on most of this, However, maybe it's because you're in Canada and I'm in Florida, but the picture with the gear sitting by the trucks outside IMMEDIATELY made me cringe!!! I just KNEW there would be a negative comment about, I thought... Having your gear inside a gear bag like the one in the other picture (the same style I use) is much more "combat ready" than sitting out in the sun. If you put your jacket on the bottom, your pants on top properly pushed down over your boots, etc. all you have to do is unzip that bag (5-8 seconds MAX) and you are stepping right into your gear as if it was just setting there ready to go.
Maybe the UV index isn't as bad there, but in Florida the damage to your PPE's protective ability incurred by hours of needless sunlight is WAY more dangerous and leaves you WAY less prepared onscene than an extra 10 seconds getting dressed!!! Even more dangerous is that unlike having a huge hole in your jacket, other than faded color, etc., you don't even know that you are compromised when you enter the hot zone!!!
Don't get me wrong, I totally understand and agree with our points here... and inside the bay out of the sun, my gear is kept the way you describe. But if the truck is left out to dry or the sun is shining inside the station, you need to keep your gear protected!!! This includes in your POV too!!! Whether career or volunteer, if you transport your gear with you, it needs to be in a gear bag or protected from the sun in some fashion!!!
Another positive about gear bags for "combat readiness" is that it is a lot less likely something small but majorly important could fall out in your car. Ever see how screwed up things get on a SF if one of the "first in" guys is missing a glove or hood when he gets dressed??? Sure, borrow the drivers (if it fits), now what happened to your initial 2 in-2 out??? Career, volunteer, paid on call, whatever... if your making fun of this statement you are either new, have a REALLY LOW call volume, or are lying... because we have all either seen or done it at least once. I have, and (inside the pocket of that same style gear bag) I have carried an extra hood and extra pair of gloves with my gear ever since. In the last 15+ years since I started that, I have loaned them out MANY times!!! LOL Small item, MAJOR problem!!!