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Is it legal or ethical for a fire chief to require employees to wear their boots and pants while driving emergency apparatus?

To me I think it is a safety issue to require them to wear their gear while driving.
Some people can do it but many have large feet that cause them to have problems driving with turnout boots on.

Another nearby department is considering implementing this policy.

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We have guys that feel both ways..the driver areas of our last two engines are kinda small with the pedals in close proximity to each I personally like to not wear my gear...problem is when u get on scene....u need boots, gloves, helmet at a minimum for pump operating/connections etc.... and a traffic vest and we have guys who will mysteriously forget to don the minimal amount of PPE needed to perform their job.A POSITIVE OF A SORT ABOUT DONNING YOUR GEAR AT THE SCENE... it can give you a extra couple seconds to size up the scene while u are donning
as a volunteer firefighter here in the dept. requires us to wear our gears, its for our own safety & our dept identification
That is a tough subject for some. I have personal experience with this issue to fall back on and when I was a FAO, it haunted me to no end. A few years ago, I was the FAO on shift for a three man engine/squad. We had just received a call for a residential structure fire, not two miles from the station. When we arrived, my officer had completed his walk around and ordered the 1 3/4" attack lines to be pulled. To make a long story short, while I was getting my assignments taken care of, The roof collapsed on one of my crew members. My OIC waved for me to assist in the rescue, but I was paralyzed because I had not been able to don my gear yet. Thankfully, he was rescued right away, due to the training we had received, but when ever I think about it I always think "what if."

I brought this question back to the firehouse, and no one had the right answer. That's because there isn't one. Every FAO has to ask them self, can I perform the duties of driver operator as safely and efficiently with turnouts on as I could with turnouts off. For me the answer was no. I was much more valuable to the team by getting them to the fire safely without fear of danger, than I was dressed. Dressing out is a high priority for our FAOs as soon as possible, but for me a safe response was more important.
On my fire dept,in our last meeting our Chief told us ,by regulations,that we are to be dressed in Gear,before we inner the
Fire truck,since we do have plenty of room in the cab..Because when you get to the scene,with other Fire vehicals,etc,you may have to walk a ways to the scene.I go with dressing out in Gear now,before we Roll. Something I had to get use to ..
Sorry Kevin, but I have a real issue with this line of reasoning.
In the first place, a Driver/Operator is still a member of the crew. If the D/O is in the rig, sitting there while the rest of the crew is getting turned out, how is that better than getting dressed and into the engine with them? What makes driving or pumping the rig more difficult in turnouts than out of them?
If the call is for additional manpower, an extra extrication crew for example, and you are told to go forward with your crew, you will either be ready to start pulling tools, or you will be getting dressed while the rest of your crew is working. Due to our manpower, D/Os pull tools, air bottles and equipment and forward them into the hot zone so that crews can get to them quickly. Outside Officers and D/Os also count as part of the two in/two out. At all times, we are responsible for the delivery of water, but there are things that can be done after the lines have been charged and put into low recirculation.
Apparatus are designed to be operated by people wearing turnouts and I would have a hard time with a D/O or Officer that said that they couldn’t operate the equipment because they were wearing them.

Again, no heartburn is intended.
Kevin, Your question, "Is it legal or ethical for a fire chief to require employees to wear their boots and pants while driving emergency apparatus?"

My opinion is yes, it is ethical for your Chief Officer to require you to wear any and all protective clothing even when operating your apparatus. Your Chief Officers have a responsibility to take any action necessary to provide you with a safer work environment. "My feet are too big, I am too restricted to drive, I am not comfortable which distracts me" etc., etc., are all excuses that we all have heard or even used to push the envelope a little. How many runs require you to do more then operate the pump? When you do operate the pump do you feel you should be completely protected? When the what if happens i.e. roof collapses on your crew what good are you if you are not protected? Protective equipment is for your protection and should be utilized at all times.

I have to apologize to be a little harsh and blunt but it is a pet peeve of mine as I operated in all the positions of my departments apparatus in full turn out gear and was even able to wear a seat belt but that's another discussion for another time.

Stay Safe

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