PPE is there for protection. Why not put it all on? You can see with the mask on and you can work irons with gloves. Why would you not want to be protected and prepared for what might be waiting for you on the other side? What are your thoughts?
While we have no SOG on this. The closest one we have states that the truck company shall force entry for the engine company, then search for victims, and assist the engine company when neccesary. This is the SOG, but we don't really opperate as dedicated engine or truck companies.
I always have all my PPE on and ready to go, except for my mask. If the fire is on the main floor, with no visibility into the structure, we will mask up before the entry is made. If fire is in the upper floors, we will force entry for the engine, then mask up to make entry. I always do a READY check before entry, and make my crew do it with me. That way, we are all covered.
For me it's a common sense approach. Whenever I head to the fire building all of my gear is donned,except for my facepiece, unless I believe that I would be exposed immediately to an IDLH environment during the forcible entry operations or once the door is forced. I do not like breathing through a tiny h*** or expending my air supply before it is necessary. Also my view, especially in low light conditions, is not obscured by the facepiece. My job's policy is simple. Anytime a person is entering an IDLH environment, their facepiece shall be in place and in-service (breathing cylinder air). If I am forcing the door and no products of combustion will be present before entry I am staying in compliance with this protocol. This is just my personal preferrence.
When forcing doors, assuming we're using the irons, there is what is done and what should be done.
For the most part, we have an air pack on, masked. Door entry and 1st line is usually the same due to initial man(excuse me, politicaly correct person) power.
Been times packed but not masked making entry for others.
No written policy.
Depends on size-up, immediate conditions at door area. Potential to get bit in the butt, I think. Open the door and get a suprise "karumpf".
When hammering tools, and splinters and crap flying around, strong consideration should be given to eye safety.
Use actual safety goggles or mask.
It's very easy for a small piece of metal to be dislodged from a struck/stricking tool and find the bullseye on your eye. May be a delayed reaction while your going in and then an eye starts bothering you.
At work with aircraft, and cars and home projects, Have had the little pieces of crap find an eye and cause big discomfort.
Opened a door on a house with nothing showing, all closed up. Did try-before-pry and door opened, with no mask.
Shortly after opening, bad smoke came drifting out. Obscurred vision and caused coughing/breathing difficulty.
If no mask or regulator on, be prepared to take some steps back and away to attach mask and/or regulator.
I think sometimes we get complacent and in a hurry, hug and crowd the door, without thought given to our eyes and lungs.
I will tighten up this question by adding. That you have a working fire inside and you will be using your air pack right away. So do you don everything before the door "pops" or to you force it, control it and then finish dressing?
It is very hazardous to bang the tools together (irons) with your facepiece on. No one wants to give the person holding the Halligan a second elbow on the same arm. If the top of the door is burning off due to interior fire conditions, then you may have no choice but to don the facepiece if the public hallway is getting fouled up with smoke/heat. The same goes if the door is gapped and smoke causes you to change/alter positions to avoid smoke; put your facepiece on and finish the job. Similar to no excuses for not finishing your roof cuts because you didn't put on your facepiece, the door HAS to be forced AND controlled. If it takes a facepiece on then that's the way it goes. I prefer to take the door without my facepiece on. It is much safer and guys are much more confident swinging the axe/maul. You'll get better hits and may get the door quicker. The Engine should be masking up (donning facepiece) while the Truck is working on the door anyway. Once the door is "popped," they can open the line while the Truck masks up away from the entryway into the apartment/dwelling.
Do you REALLY KNOW what the conditions are on the other side of the door? Recent "securiy" worries have prompted many home owners to install thick, armoured and / or very solid doors in their homes. These will require extra efforts to get them open, but at the same time, they will retain possible severe fire conditions inside. If you are on the free side of a door that gives access to a possible interior fire, then you had better have complete PPE properly fitted and functioning.
If you have any doubts about this, try standing in front of the access door of a Flashover training container. As the preacher would say, "you will see the light!"
Ray, Erich Roden-thehousewatch.com brings up some thoughts which may tighten up the question yet further.
Exterior door with none or little smoke?
How far in is the door, if it's an interior door?
Is the door in a lobby/recessed area?
I suppose one should evaluate the doors location, and what may be lurking behind it.
You may have to go inside a ways masked and breathing forcing a door, or you could be exterior unmasked.
I haven't had the second elbow, yet. It does sound painful!
We teach our firefighters: 1. Try before you pry, 2. Don't ignore the obvious, 3. Use the door the occupant is most likely to use. 4. Maintain the integrity of the door. In looking at these steps, number two is actually the most important. If you are paying attention to the obvious things you will check the door for heat, you will try the door first and you will note the signs that will tell you what is happening on the other side of the door. Do you see anything? Do you smell anything? Can you hear anything? What does the rest of the occupancy look like?
Adjust your tactics accordingly. There are no absolutes. That being said, as a general rule I, and the firefighters I work with will have ALL p.p.e. on, including s.c.b.a., with the exception of actually having the mask on. It tends to restrict visibility which may already be problematic; especially when firefighters are swinging steel tools around. There may be times when wearing the mask and breathing from the bottle are necessary while performing f.e. though these are true rare instances. Adjust your actions to the scene.
I get off the truck with all of my PPE on even if the Driver/Operator. The piece of equipment I need to don before entry is my Mask. I flip the helmet back don mask then hood etc. And away I go. I try to train with my gloves on all the time so I dont need to worry about them.
AS wearing the mask it can fog up very easily so I wait till I need to enter. Forcing a door is not always done in seconds, so wearing the mask unless in IDLH area where smoke is choking me I wait till the last second. As for the eye protection I will use my goggles and or face shield.
For my dept. we have no real written policy when it comes to full ppe while forcing doors, unless you concider you will your ppe at all times as a policy. Its hit or miss depending on what shift or station you are out of. I have seen brothers masked up and breathing air before they get off the rig. And I have seen members walking up to the front door with no tools or air packs, only to go oh s*** and then run back to the rig to get what they need. For me, at the start of the shift I assign everyone a riding spot and tool assignment. My number 3 seat is my force guy and nozzle man, my number four guy (if i have one) is the strike man and carries a 6ft hook (theres more but im keeping it short). By the way we have no truck companies on my dept. Engine crew does double duty. I have found that getting off the rig while wearing your mask gives you tunnel vison. I train my guys not to mask up till after the door is forced. I like this for the reason that after you get the door popped your giving the area a chance to breath giving you sometime for the smoke to let up a little off the floor and helps slow you down a little bit before diving head first into a bad situration. This also gives me a little bit more time to do a walk around without having to worry that my guys are already going before I get back to them.
I think it comes down to common sense and training. If you can't see your feet get low, if you're in an IDLH don your mask. I don't think there is any question about working with anything other than your facepiece off while forcing a door. If you're not wearing gloves when working with tools, you are not working smart. If you control the door, until either yourself or your crew are ready or an engine crew is ready with a charged hoseline, you theoretically should be OK. We could what if...do death! Taking an extra second to don your facepiece should be the only time lost. Risk Vs. Benefit! Will you force the door quicker with the facepiece off or on? If it takes longer to force the door with the mask donned fully, can those seconds be made up by rapid entry upon breaching the opening! "OR" If you force the door quicker with it off, will the time taken to don it cancel each other out? Does it all work out in the end? Does everyone go home? Is it more important to conserve air until you actually need it? I think so! I prefer forcing the door, controling it and donning my mask. Usually there is someone ready to make entry as soon as the door is made. Stay safe, and get the job done safely! Merry Christmas!!
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