There are a number of different personal tools that can be carried in your pocket to make your job easier. Tools such as shove knives, screwdrivers, and various types of cutters are among the most popular.
It's always an interesting question to ask a firefighter what they carry in their pocket and why. There is usually a good story associated with the choices, and the discussion becomes a great learning opportunity.
The problem is that if you are not careful how these tools are stored in your pockets, you may end up damaging you bunker gear. The photo below shows a damaged pocket due to personal tools poking through the pocket.
The concern is that the tools could eventually puncture the actual outer layer of the gear, possibly compromising the thermal protection abilities of it.
A piece of out-of-service fire hose can be used to create an effective pocket protector. Simply cutting a pocket sized section of hose creates a protective sleeve for your tools in your pocket.
Shown in the photo above are sections of 1 3/4" hose folded over and secured with either duct tape or zip ties.
The folded over version creates two separate compartments to help organize your tools. The 1 3/4" version works well in smaller coat pockets, or the larger divided style found in some bunker pants pockets.
Larger hose like 2 1/2" or 4" can be used in a similar fashion in traditional full size pockets.
One thing to keep in mind when using the larger hose is that folding it over tends to make the pocket protector a little bulky.
One option is to remove the outer jacket of the hose (if possible) to make it more low profile. Another option is to make it into a single compartment protector by simply securing one end with duct tape, as shown below.
Taking a few moments to make a simple pocket protector can not only help prevent damage, it can keep you more organized.
More importantly, it can help you work smarter not harder on the fireground.