It's funny you mention the new guy carrying everything. I remember working with a veteran paramedic one night when I was fairly new. We had a ride along that night and this guy comes stolling in with the pants and a huge leather pouch loaded with scissors, bite blocks, lights and hemostats of every size shape and color, if you know what I mean. The old crusty medic immediately sees this kid and says, "Hey, who called the electrician?"
Michael Bricault said:-ONE OF THE BEST CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS.
-Its not so much what you carry in your pockets but rather what do you REALLY NEED.
-I'm never disappointed with this question that always produces at least one firefighter that believes he needs the Home Depot in each pocket as well as affixed to his helmet.
-A couple of things on this topic. First what do you need to carry? Aside from the essential bail out gear, 1 piece of webbing and 1 carabineer; 1 knife and 1 pair of dikes, if you are carrying something and have not used it in months you should get rid of it. Ask yourself, do I REALLY, REALLY NEED TO CARRY THIS or is it something that is a convenience.
-Second, can you retrieve the specific tool/item from your pocket AND utilize/employe the specific tool while wearing structure firefighting gloves? If not... you don't need to carry the item in your gear. It's that simple. One of the most useless items firefighters carry is a Leatherman or multi tool.
-If you must remove a glove to get the item/tool out of your pocket as well as operate the tool then obviously the pressure is off, the emergent nature of the call has passed and there is plenty of time to retrieve the appropriate equipment/tools from the apparatus.
-Allen wrenches, socket sets, screw drivers, folding hand saw, hose strap.... the list goes on and it's all unnecessary to carry on your person in your gear.
-There is absolutely no need for firefighters to weigh themselves down and create snag/entanglement hazards carrying unnecessary equipment. The job is difficult enough... no need to make it harder.
-Whats more, these items that are carried usually become the very thing that create snag/entanglement problems during self rescue/evacuation and bail out drills and real world scenarios.
-Lastly, the helmet is not an appropriate place to carry tools or equipment, it is designed to protect your little gray computer that should be thinking of better ways to carry appropriate gear. In fact, if one were to actually read that booklet that comes with a new helmet (and not just throw it away) most firefighters would be shocked to learn that the manufacturer warns against carrying or attaching anything other than the leather shield to the helmet. Ignoring this warning changes the performance standards of the helmet and creates and unsafe situation. If you need more explanation than you really just don't get it.
-It is sometime comical to see young firefighters carrying all this crap on their helmet; special lights, chocks, screw drivers etc... Some of these young kids look like a Jeep coming through the smoke!!!
-The justification is that they cannot retrieve the item from a pocket and putting it on a helmet makes it easier. This is back to my first point; if you cannot get the item out of your pocket while wearing gloves than you don't need the tool.
-The reality is that they have seen old-timers employing this practice which harkens back to the days of long coats and pull up boots and ONLY two pockets to carry things. Ya see where this is going?
-Carry only what you need in your pockets.
I carry must of the same things as everybody else. One of the extras I carry is rocks. The purpose is when you get lost in the center of a large open area. You can through the rocks and search for the wall (or window if you are lucky).
One thing I have found particularly handy to carry is a dive knife (the one with the flat tip so you dont stab yourself). It has a serrated side and a straight blade side. Ive used it to cut the rubber in-between flat roofs, carpet (on walls during a training) pry trim off of cars to look for pretensioners, cut rope and seat belts and many other uses as well. Im not in the busiest of departments but it is an Item I use all the time. Its also a straight blade with a plastic holster thats friction fit so its easily removed with gloves on. Its cheap enough so if it breaks its not a big deal.
Mr. Bricault, I don't neccisarily agree with everything you said but I do think that most things people carry are about convinience. Its much easier to reach into a pocket or (brace yourself) the top or your helmet for a door chock than it is to go back to the truck and get something.
-Mike, as I said at the beginning, I love this topic, it never fails to produce heated discussion.
-I agree with you that many firefighters carry things in their gear as a convenience. This is, as stated, very unnecessary weight and entanglement. One of the best courses to illustrate this point is the Survival class at FDTN in Indianapolis. It is without a doubt a serious gut check and one of the toughest courses going. After just a few moments, Jim McCormack demonstrates these entanglements, created many times by unnecessarily over stuffed, bulky pockets.
-Regardless of what is carried the crucial point for any firefighter is whether or not the item can be retrieved from the pocket and utilized while wearing structure gloves. If the answer is no than the item should not be carried. There is NO EXCUSS for removing structure gloves on scene. If you find one then, as Tom Brennen says, "we aren't going to the same fires".
-As to carrying equipment on helmets, I will direct your attention to what I've already said and reiterate that it does violate the manufacturer's direction. I know many firefighters that do this and they always have an excuse for it. Suffice to say that many FD's, including the FDNY, now have official policy that prohibit this practice.
-Carry what you need to mitigate the emergent nature of the call, not what is convenient. Once the emergent nature has passed then the pressure is off and time doesn't have you under the gun anymore.
-Convenience is the beginning of an excuse.
-If going back to the apparatus is to difficult have another member retrieve the convenience item for you.