Archive for the 'Pockets' Category
Having a wedge ready to go and easily accessible is simple an effective way to make your forcible entry more effective. The photo below are from Joe from Engine 32 (NJ.) He simply used some zip ties and a piece of heat shrink tubing to create a place to carry a wedge on the back of his flashlight. This method allows the wedge to easily accessed without fumbling through your pockets, and keeps the wedge off of your helmet. Obviously this particular setup only allows for one wedge to be carried, so others will still have to be carried in another manner. Remember, one wedge is never enough! Of course, this wedge could get lost at some point, but since they are not made of gold, and you always carry more than one, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Martin Patino from Flower Mound (TX) sent in this slick idea to ensure a window punch is always readily available on a MVA. Every one of us has probably has a traditional window (center) punch fall apart, or freeze up at just the wrong time. This simple idea is accomplished by adding a weld bead onto a pair of cable cutters. Once the bead is on the tool, a little time with a hand file will allow the bead to take shape into a point creating the window punch.
Cable cutters are a handy tool to have on MVA’s to cut battery cables, and even defeat the stubborn wiring harness when removing a door. This simple idea makes sure you always have a functional window punch handy without adding any weight or taking up any additional room in your pocket.8 comments
Mike Terzo Jr. from Rush (NY) sent in this kit of tools he deploys at motor vehicle accidents. The kit includes the following: seatbelt cutter, window punch, duct tape, Ajax strip and peek tool, vice grip adjustable wrench, yellow disposal blanket, length of webbing with carabineer and a 5/16 wrench. The tools are used primarily to disconnect the battery, cut seatbelts, break windows, check under the interior trim for possible air bags or high voltage power, door control, and patient protection.
The purpose of carrying all of the tools in one bag is to ensure that each of these tools is available at every auto accident. The benefit of having all of the commonly used tools in one place allows quick access when the kit is placed on the hood or roof of the vehicle. An additional benefit is that it allows firefighters to carry less equipment in their own pockets. These kits can be made on the cheap, and can be customized based on individual preferences.20 comments
Tim Anderson from Philadelphia Engine 16 sent in his method of storing a fixed blade knife. His setup uses one of the personal sized box lights with shoulder strap. His knife is mounted mid chest and is easy to get to with either hand. As you can see from the photo below, a few zip ties securely hold in knife in place.
Dan Daly from Chicago Fire Department sent in his method of carrying an easily accessible knife. His set-up utilizes a river (or dive) style of knife that is attached to his flashlight with zip ties. Dan rides this light/knife assembly on the chest of his turnout coat. This location ensures the knife is easy to get to at all times. This style knife comes with a hard plastic sheath that locks the knife in place, while still allowing it to be removed with ease. This style knife has one sharp blade, a dull edge, and a dull point that can be used as a small pry bar or even a shove knife. One nice thing about a fixed blade knife is that it is easy to operate with a gloved hand. We have shown a number of cutter ideas here on VentEenterSearch over the years but have not featured many knife set-ups. Knifes and cutters are both great tools to have, they each have a number of different uses an limitations and should both be considered in your personal tool selection.5 comments
Lieutenant Mike Brown from Baltimore City (MD) Truck 15 sent in this photo of his cable cutters. The lanyard is made of tubular webbing that is zip tied onto both handles. The webbing has enough slack to allow for the cutters to fully open. This amount of slack allows the lanyard to hang just outside of the pocket when the cutters are closed and stored.
We have shown various types of cutters and various types of lanyards in the past. The nice thing about this particular lanyard set-up is that pulling on the webbing handle actually closes the cutters. The problem with some other lanyard set-ups is that if the tool is placed head down in the pocket, the handle tends to get caught up in the pocket.
The simple addition of a pair of cutters to your pocket can really help you in a number of situations, most importantly, in an entanglement. There are pros and cons to the different types of cutters that we have shown in the past. Regardless of the style of cutters you prefer, every firefighter should have a least one pair in their pocket, and train on using them in a zero visibility environment.
There have been a few comments about the concern of the webbing handle getting snagged, so we added the photo below to show how Lt. Brown stores the webbing. Just enough to make it simple to grab, not enough to create a significant snag hazard.
Here is another great modification of entanglement cutters. Kevin Kalmus from Austin (TX) sent in this photo of his cutters, not only with a leash added to the handle, but with a spring from and over-sized clothespin obtained from the dollar store. The addition of the spring makes using the cutters a single handed operation. Anyone who has ever used cutters in an entanglement knows that having them “spring” back into the open position after a cut has been made is extremely helpful. The picture also shows the handle of the tool covered with some paint on electrical “tape” for additional grip with a gloved hand. The benefit of the painted electrical tape is that it doesn’t get sticky and gunk up the inside of your pocket.
Besides a picture of the modified cutters, Kevin gave us the heads up on the IAFF Fire Ground Survival (FGS) Program. The FGS program is a comprehensive survival skills and MAYDAY prevention program. The FGS program applies the lessons learned from the NIOSH fire fighter fatality investigation program. The program is available in both online or hands on formats. The HOT format is taught by IAFF certified FGS instructors. The course manual and materials have a section that discusses the benefits of having cutters like this available during an entanglement. The online version of the FGS program is available for FREE to all firefighters, career or volunteer. Additional details about the program and a link to the free online training component of the program can be found on the IAFF website by clicking here.16 comments
Mike Webb from Frederick County (MD) sent in this submission for our what’s in your pockets section. The importance of having the handle on the cutters was stressed during his department’s participation in the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (details here.) During the HOT training involving an entanglement hazard, the challenges of retrieving cutters (or other tools) from bunker pockets with gloved hands is quickly realized. The simple addition of some webbing to the handle of the tool makes retrieving the tool much easier. In the picture above the webbing was attached to the handle with some hockey tape. Certain tools may lend themselves to drilling a hole in part of the handle. The picture below shows the webbing extending out of the pocket, which helps in the location of the tool, but may create a slight entanglement hazard itself. Simply having the webbing on the tool handle, but packed just inside the pocket will aid in retrieval without creating another entanglement hazard. Another idea could include attaching a strip of Velcro to the webbing and another just inside the flap of the pocket, to ensure the webbing handle is easy to locate in the pocket.
For many years now, the fire service has reminded citizens to change their smoke detector battery when the clocks change. While that is a great reminder for them, we need to take notice ourselves. Change YOUR backup flashlight’s batteries!
Your backup flashlight is really not much different than a smoke detector. It’s something you may not even notice is around, but when you need it, it needs to work without fail (just like your smoke detector.) The unfortunate thing about backup flashlights is that most of us will throw one in the pocket of our gear, and never think much about. When the time comes that we need it, we reach into our pocket, turn it on, and hope or the best. Your backup flashlight needs to be treated like a piece of life safety equipment. While that may sound a bit extreme, it should at least be treated with some consideration. Obviously, we are all comfortable functioning in a zero visibility environment without a problem, but lets save that for when it has to happen, not just because we didn’t maintain our flashlight. Every one of us has had a rechargeable die within moments of it coming out of the charger. We certainly don’t always charge them within the manufacture’s recommendations. An alkaline powered backup light lessens the likelihood of being without light when this occurs. If you don’t have one, GO GET ONE!
We need to change our batteries periodically whether we use the flashlight or not. Changing the batteries once every other month is not a bad idea, or at a minimum, twice a year when the clocks change. If these batteries still have some juice, they can be re-used in less important electronic devices around the house. If nothing else, the battery compartment of your flashlight needs to be opened up and “burped” every now and then. Many of the fire department style flashlights are waterproof for obvious reasons. These flashlights tend to have sealed battery compartments in order to keep water out. An alkaline battery tends to “off gas” over time and ends up chewing the light apart from the inside out like shown in the picture below. Have you ever seen a light not work because of corroded batteries? This is what we’re talking about. The simple fix is just to open the battery compartment from time to time and let everything breathe a bit. Some of the newer or higher-end flashlights have a one-way valve in the battery compartment to prevent this from happening. However, we have on occasion, seen these valves get clogged with fireground debris and have even seen new flashlights ruined because they were not occasionally “burped.”
Any piece of battery operated equipment can and will fail without warning! This is why we need to have a plan B. With very little effort, it’s quite simple to always have a reliable flashlight on hand, and every one of us has had a moment where a little extra light could have made our jobs a whole lot easier. Work smarter not harder. Let us all take a moment to change OUR battery to ensure our plan B will work for us when needed.
Editorial note: A special thanks goes out to Lt. Rich Taylor and Lt. Brad Grainger from Winter Park (FL) Firehouse 61 for hunting down a broken flashlight and taking these pictures for us. Also, we had another post about different styles of flashlights back in September 2007 written by Lieutenant Walt Lewis from Orlando Fire titled Flashlight Wrap that would be great supplemental reading for this post.12 comments
Hunter Hill from Fitchburg (WI) Fire Department sent in this simple method of storing webbing. Simply roll up the webbing and place it in a medical glove. This keeps the webbing from getting knotted up or hung up on anything in your pocket. These photos show a length of webbing with carabineers on either end, but it would work just as well with webbing that is tied in a continuous loop. Webbing is a versatile tool, and can be used in a number of different ways. Some uses call for a length of webbing, some call for a continuous loop. It’s not a bad idea to carry one of each.