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Since day one in the fire service, we have each had that one thing that we always carry in our gear. A screw driver, pliers, wire cutters, rope or webbing. Over the years we might accumulate more or downsize to just what we need.


? I am always curious when I hear some state that they don’t want any extra weight on them, that their gear is heavy enough.

As you can see, we recently were issued the external harnesses. We had members that complained about the weight and extra attention that needed to be paid to getting into the gear. I personally have not had any problems and I will post on these harnesses another time.

The matter at hand is “what’s in your pockets?” I have things that I always carry with me no matter what and there are some items that I would like to add and just haven’t done it yet.

I keep a 30 foot piece of webbing, two cords, wire cutters, (need new ones), regular pliers, screw drivers, a center punch and I wear a flash light on my coat. There are some items that I need to add, but for now this is what I have. For example, I would like to add a 25 and 50 foot section of 8mm rope, wooden wedges and a new pair of spring loaded wire cutters.




Flash light on the coat.
What do you carry and why? Do you have any great stories of needing any of your tools and were glad you had them?

Share your input and give us your recommendations and suggestions on what to carry and why.

Stay safe and be careful out there.

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Now that is classic! LOL!! Electrician...I'll have to remember that one, as I know several individuals who fit that profile to the T.

I think Michael makes some fantastic points; and he is right, this IS one of the best controversial topics. It is interesting to read people's ideas and opinons on things like this. Certainly there is a fine line between good use of pocket space and just plain overkill.


Jason Hoevelmann said:
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?"
Priceless.

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).
-Seriously?!?! Rocks?

Chris Bullins said:
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.
Thanks, Mike, that is not a bad idea. Stay low and have a great 4th of July.

Michael Haefner said:
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.
I must agree with Michael. Through my last 11 years in firefighting and EMS, I can PROUDLY say that I have been the Electrician mentioned, and educated myself with books, college degrees, hands on classes, peer observations, and most importantly being a FOLLOWER before a leader, to come to realize that I don't really need everything on my gear that I initially had 11 years ago. Your gear weighs a lot to begin with (different material combinations will cause variations). Your helmet if leather weighs about 6 pounds, being balanced at the factory to properly fit upon your head which is biologically balanced upon a spinal connection the size of golf ball or smaller. It's hard enough to balance our big @$$es on an abdominal workout ball, let alone a golfball. So it doesn't seem logical towards our personal protection to defy the laws of physics by adding unbalanced equipment to our heavy helmets.

They gave us many pockets to carry our equipment, so keep it there.

History began with firefighters only fighting fires. The job was simple. Now we are cross-trained to handle every situation except bank robberies. Perhaps in 2019, we will be carrying pistols, and have to have another pocket for that too.

My point is, we answer a VERY wide variety of calls for service, so why in the world would you try to believe that you can carry the tools to handle every one. I know the Marines in this blog can relate to Improvising and Adapting to Overcome... Why do people carry rocks? Is there no other inatimate object in your vecinity that you can throw? Don't waste your valuable posket space. Don't become lazy and carry the Do-All tools because you don't want to walk back to the truck for the tool box. Like Michael was getting at, a Leatherman is not a life-safety tool if you can't use it with a gloved hand. I will One-Up that, and add the ability to use it in a complete darkness/blackout situation.

This topic is very controversial about WHAT to carry, however EVERYONE is on the same train of thought -- We all have our minds open to having what we need to save our butts. But we are sometimes closing our minds to what is around us to use. Example: a stapler in an office to throw, opposed to .... rocks from my pocket....

Keep your pockets ONLY for the LIFE SAFETY equipment that you know you will need in an emergent situation, that cannot/should not be substituted with your surroundings. And don't be lazy - If you need a tool box, go get it/or bring it with you.

Your greatest tool is your imagination. As a proby, it is huge, but with experience it narrows. Try to focus on opening it up again.

Stay Safe, Stay Low.






Michael Bricault said:
-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.
This is what I carry:

Pants - 35' webbing looped with water knot, rolled and stored in a medical glove, hose strap, work gloves, Yates harness

Coat - Figure 8, 2 carabiners, Whiffs mask/filter, safety glasses

Helmet - Wood chocks, ear plugs(inside liner) Sorry Michael

SCBA Harness - FESH self rescue system on waist belt, flashlight

Since I am a Driver, I don't carry many tools around since they are right there in my engine. If I'm riding the jumpseat for a day, then I have a pouch I slip into my pants pocket with a couple of screwdrivers and cable cutters.
Pretty much I agree with Michael Bricault. After 16 years I've pared down to three wedges, a pair of light leather work gloves, a 'biner, and 20' of 1" webbing in an outside pocket. Inside the coat I keep a pen, a notepad, and a folding razor knife that clips to the pocket. And a small 7" long flat-tip screwdriver for resetting pull boxes because the one on our key ring is too small to easily manipulate. I used to carry a tarzan knife on my truck belt but the belt took a walk one day, the knife went with it, and they never came back. I carry nothing on my helmet.

The rule in the infantry was "travel light, freeze at night". It worked then; it works now. The military has good data on how troop effectiveness decreases as load increases. Having carried a ruck that was more than 50% of my body weight, and one that was about 30%, I can attest that the Army is right about that. Save your back, save your legs, minimize entanglement risk, and go light. You'll be glad you did.

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