Archive for the 'Pockets' Category
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.
Vise grips are a versatile tool for a number of different reasons. One of their many uses is to clamp a garage door open. When working in or around a garage it’s easy to open and keep open even after utilities have already been secured. From the inside, simply reach up and activate the emergency release mechanism, which frees the door from the automatic door opener (shown in the photo below.) Once the door is open, simply take the vise grips and clamp on the track to prevent to door from closing.
The door is much “safer” once it has been released from the door opener mechanism and clamped open. The automatic garage door opener no longer has an effect on the door. This was one of the speculations in a video we posted a few years ago, that radio interference caused the garage door opener to activate and close the door. (Which would not have happened if utilities were secured.) Another reason why the door is safer is because if heat builds up in the garage around the springs this will not cause the door to close since the track is blocked by the vise grips. (make sure the vise grips are clamped tight) The springs are normally located on the front wall above the door, or along side of the tracks. If heat builds up in this area, it could cause the springs to anneal, lose tension, and lower the door. The weakening of the spring was the other speculation in the video. A simple clamp on the door would prevent either situation from happening and prevents committing more useful tools to be used to prop the door open.
Jeff Daniels from Goodyear (AZ) Fire sent in a different method of securing a flashlight to your lid. This idea simply takes a thorn resistant bicycle tube and attaches it under the brim of the helmet. The thorn resistant tube is thicker than a standard tube and holds up better to the abuse. The tube expands to fit various size flashlights, and keeps them in place pretty effectively. Some people prefer to have the light mounted under the brim of the helmet to minimize a possible entanglement hazard. As you can see from the close-up picture the tube was secured using the shell retaining screws. Obviously this set-up will not work on all types of helmets, but it is a lightweight, cheap and effective way to secure your light if works on your style lid.
The thorn resistant bicycle tube could be used above the helmet as well. For those who have the large inter-tube that runs all the way around the helmet, the smaller thorn resistant tube could be zip tied to the larger helmet band to achieve similar results. This set-up would allow the allow this style of flashlight to be attached without using a “hard mount” bracket.
Vise grips are a great tool to have in your pocket. There are many great uses for the tool. Firefighter Sam Russell form Capital City (AK) sent in this useful modification to a pair of vise grips. Take a quick trip to the hardware store and find an eye bolt and nut that fit in place of the adjustment screw on the vise grips.
This modification is two fold, first it makes adjusting the vise grips much easier since you have the eye of the bolt to use for leverage when moving the adjustment screw. Second (and more importantly) the eye bolt gives you an attachment point for a carabineer. The attachment point is useful when using carabineer with webbing or rope on the tool to secure a padlock or chain during rotary saw forcible entry.21 comments
Sgt. Scott Madden from Loudoun County (VA) sent in an idea he got from one of his brothers at Station 6.
The idea is to use a small spring hand clamp as a door wedge. Scott points out that the clamps work well in a number of different ways, and on various types of doors. Even though its technically not in his pocket, check out the What’s in your pockets page for pictures of the clamps in use.
We went ahead and added the Bungee Cord trick from a few weeks ago to the What’s in Your Pockets page, and figure we’d include another submission while we were at it.
Lieutenant Brad Dougherty from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire & Emergency Services sent in this latest what’s in your pockets update. The irony is that his submission is about what’s not in his pockets. He took an old army ammo bag and placed some of the items that firefighters typically carry in their pockets. The bag has a large interior compartment which has some organization slots on the inside. It also has exterior compartments for other items. These compartments allow the bag to be organized without being too cluttered. He uses the bag to eliminate the excess weight in his pockets. While responding to an alarm, he reaches into the bag to retrieve what he may need on that particular alarm. He even pointed out that he has taken the whole bag on a few special occasions.
Screen and storm doors are nothing more than a nuisance when performing a door size up and forcing entry on a residential structure. Obviously they can be removed through various methods, but sometimes that may be more trouble than it’s worth. They are not easily chocked because of the piano style hinge or otherwise limited accessible hinge side. Removing the door closers (newer doors have two, top and bottom) is time consuming and does little to secure the door if the wind is blowing from the hinge side.
Samuel Hittle from Wichita Firehouse 10 sent in an idea that another brother from Wichita shared with him. Firefighter Tom Dent from Firehouse 9 showed him a solution utilizing a bungee cord carried in his pocket, the bungee cord is used to quickly and easily secure these doors. The boys from Firehouse 10 liked the idea so much they attached an 18” bungee to the irons. Having it attached to the irons makes it readily available for any firefighter assigned to the door position. When an attachment point cannot be found on the structure, they simply create a purchase (to hook into) on the structure by driving the halligan into the house or porch wall.