Good afternoon from the Jumpseat. It seems like today’s firefighters are struggling with a tried and true method of operating: with your fire gloves on. Whether it's something that I have witnessed, someone shared a story with me about or I saw a photo of, it seems to be a struggle for many firefighters.
Often when I am teaching new firefighters, they seem to grab rescue gloves or leather gloves to perform their firefighting skills. Back the truck up! This is a huge problem; do you fight fires with your rescue gloves on? The answer should be a huge no! Rescue gloves offer dexterity that fire gloves do not, but they do not protect you from steam or fire at all.
Why is this blog article even needed?
I believe this is a huge problem that affects us all, not just the new firefighters. When did you last practice putting your facepiece on with your fire gloves? How do you handle adjusting your SCBA straps with your fire gloves on? These two skills seem to get lost in the wash, so to speak. I noticed in one drill that we ran with the experienced firefighters that simulated a face piece becoming dislodged and a SCBA strap getting loosened that some of the folks who had the most trouble were the folks with years on the job.
Remember back to your rookie class, did the instructor make you do all your work with fire gloves on? If not, they should be reminded by a burn survivor how bad burns hurt. If you have a malfunction in your SCBA or PPE in a super-heated environment, you will have to fix it. If you take your gloves off how long will it take you to be incapacitated or burned to the point of death? I vote that it's not long!
So how do you train for these situations? Get moving! Grab your SCBA and your crewmembers and put yourselves into these situations. Drilling on the apparatus floor does not need to be a huge production.
A group of firefighters with their PPE and SCBAs can become a lifesaving five minutes spent reviewing techniques, techniques that remind you to leave your gloves on! My partner always says when we are training to add a blowtorch to the drill to make it real. While this sounds a little extreme, he is spot on. The skills you are reviewing in the safety of you fire station will be used in an environment in excess of 300 degrees.
When you grab your PPE to perform your next drill, make sure that you grab your fire gloves. While rescue gloves may be acceptable while working outside a building once you cross that threshold, they are a recipe for disaster and a ticket straight to the burn center and that's a place where none of us want to go!
Be safe and always #jumpseatready!