Like a magician storing a rabbit in their hats or stuffing flowers up their sleeves, firefighters for years have held small tools and equipment on reserve within the pockets of their turnout gear. You can rummage through the gear grid of any firefighter and find plyers, wedges, and window punches in their pockets in the event their unique use and purpose in the fire service is needed.
In all sets of my gear, I keep a self-tensioning webbing slash that consists of two (2) close ended loops in each pocket. The left pocket (left being 4 letters) I store a 4’ piece and in the right pocket (right being 5 letters) I store a 5’ piece.
An added benefit to the self-tensioning pieces are that they can easily be put into play when faced with limited dexterity from gloved hands and during times with limited visibility due to smoke conditions. Not having to tie off knots or use hardware makes it simpler and easier when time is urgent, and your other senses are hindered due to your gear and/or the environment you are working in.
Through trial, error and a plethora of training, I have found that the following pre-cut lengths work best when deployed and implemented on the fireground for firefighter/victim removal, transporting equipment from the rig to the scene, and hoseline operations and control.
Firefighter/Victim Removal: A section cut down to 4’ provides the perfect working length for securing the wrists of the individual and for creating a handle for grabbing and dragging.
This can be accomplished by facing the top of the head while walking/crawling in reverse while dragging the victim away from the IDLH environment or by straddling over the victim and capturing the end of the webbing with your integrated harness and crawling towards a means of egress with the victim below you.
Equipment Carry: Whether you are tasked with creating a tool cache or the need for numerous tools presents itself, I have found that a pre-cut 5’ section works well for transporting SCBA Bottles over the shoulder keeping your hands free to hold and carry saws and other hand tools.
Hoseline Control and Operations: Utilizing a 6’ shot of the tubular webbing, this configuration can be used as a makeshift hose strap providing ease with pulling and positioning a line into place and can be used to relieve some of the weight from the charged hose by capturing two (2) points of the diameter and tossing the strap over your shoulder allowing for you to gain better control of the line’s weight and pressure.
Step By Step:
With the uses of this strap being limited only to your own imagination, it can easily be adapted to the needs of your task or assignment to alleviate the need for taking time to tie off knots or having to utilize additional hardware. An added benefit to the strap as well is that it takes up little to no space in your gear and is cost effective that it can be replaced or distributed to your peers without breaking the bank.
AB Turenne is a 22-year veteran of the fire service in Eastern Connecticut. As a Certified Level II Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many. A graduate from the Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.
**This design was NOT created by the author of this training article, rather it is shared in an effort to benefit others benefit from its use as I have**