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    Default Proximity gear for structural use?

    Had a question regarding the use of proximity gear in a structural application.

    I know that proximity gear is not allowed to have any reflective trim so wearing proximity gear under normal (non airport/industrial use, IE, Leaving private property) firefighting use would not be allowed.

    But lets say for example, an engine company were to don Proximity turnout gear for a structural application after they arrive on scene, Is this even allowed by NFPA standards? Other then reflective trim, what would make it not permitted?

    The reason i ask is i would think that wearing proximity gear in a structural application would offer an advantage. The superior ability to reflect radiant heat would seem to be an advantage over conventional materials.

    While it's HIGHLY unlikley to happen, since the idea of now buying two sets of turnout gear for crews and not being able to wear certain versions in certain settings would be a huge logistical issue, i am asking this question as a hypothetical scenario.

    The only issue i would think is that fact by reflecting so much radiant heat, you might end up in a dangerous situation by not being able to judge how hot a fire is getting? Or is this gear "weaker: material wise?

    Would love input from some veterans here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    Had a question regarding the use of proximity gear in a structural application.

    I know that proximity gear is not allowed to have any reflective trim so wearing proximity gear under normal (non airport/industrial use, IE, Leaving private property) firefighting use would not be allowed.

    But lets say for example, an engine company were to don Proximity turnout gear for a structural application after they arrive on scene, Is this even allowed by NFPA standards? Other then reflective trim, what would make it not permitted?

    The reason i ask is i would think that wearing proximity gear in a structural application would offer an advantage. The superior ability to reflect radiant heat would seem to be an advantage over conventional materials.

    While it's HIGHLY unlikley to happen, since the idea of now buying two sets of turnout gear for crews and not being able to wear certain versions in certain settings would be a huge logistical issue, i am asking this question as a hypothetical scenario.

    The only issue i would think is that fact by reflecting so much radiant heat, you might end up in a dangerous situation by not being able to judge how hot a fire is getting? Or is this gear "weaker: material wise?

    Would love input from some veterans here...

    I am a former airport firefighter. I spent 7 years as a civilian firefighter for the WiANG and used 3 different sets of "silvers." So I guess I can speak from a frame of reference of having used the stuff.

    1) It simply will not hold up to the crawling and abuse of structural firefighting. The silver rubs or wears off abrasion points like the knees and elbows fairly quickly.

    2) While there were vast improvements in the gear by the time I left it is still bulkier and in my opinion (worth about 3 cents I suppose) less flexible than normal turnouts.

    3) Ths issue I had with it structurally is yes it reflects heat, up to a point, and then it can get damn hot real quick if you are in too deep or too long.

    If using silvers for structural was truly a good idea don't you think some of the more progressive FD's would ahve been doing it for years already? One of the sets of gear I had was a complete structural ensemble with a removable silver shell. The idea being when you were assigned to the structural rig for the day you took off the silver outer, when you were assigned to the crash truck you put it back on. When I left that FD there was talk of each guy being assigned 2 complete sets of gear. One structural and one crash...pick the one you needed for that run.

    My opinion...Don't use silvers for structural that's not there intended use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    If using silvers for structural was truly a good idea don't you think some of the more progressive FD's would ahve been doing it for years already?

    I agree with that statement 100%. The fact nobody does seem to use them proves that there is a reason not to, My reason for the post was i wondering what those reasons were.

    And i appreciate your post and insight. You answered my question.

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    No problem.

    What I think is a concept that is easily forgotten, is for the lack of a better word, heat saturation. Yes the aluminized shell reflects back a ton of heat but the shell and the liners are heating up and eventually that heat will become painful to the wearer. It isn't like standing behind a block wall and no heat ever gets in. It slows the heat saturation of normal turn outs but does not completely defeat it. And once you are cooking there is really only 2ways to stop it, water application to the gear or to get the stuff off as fast as you can.

    Actually I think this was a good question by you and I am sure many people thatb have never worn silvers wonder the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post

    Actually I think this was a good question by you and I am sure many people thatb have never worn silvers wonder the same thing.

    It's a question that I have had for years, and just remembered. Back when I graduated high school, and was contemplating my future plans, I was very fortunate to visit K.I. Sawyer AFB in northern Michigan, set up by an Air Force recruiter.

    Man, was that a great trip. It was planned well in advance, and we really had an all encompassing trip, visiting everything from the security police to the firehouses, to being fairly close to the flight line.
    Most impressive was the flight of 8 or so B-52's that landed and took off. I's hard to believe those planes could fly, I guess they're called BUFF for a reason.

    FyredUp, here's the question for you, maybe you know having been a part of the ANG. The guys at Sawyer basically wore the silver stuff for everything, at least as far as I could tell with my uneducated eyes and ears.
    I don't remember how big of a department they staffed up there, but they did all of the structural fire protection and went off base to help the areas around there.

    From what I remember, the stuff the guys on the engines were wearing was not that stiff, and really resembled traditional structural gear, except for being silver.
    The guys on the aircraft rigs had what looked like big hoods that fit over their helmets. I don't remember any real differences between the rest of their gear, except for the boots. Maybe there were differences in it, I wasn't able to tell then, except for the big hoods and booties.

    Is it even safe to wear that aircraft stuff in a building? And is it just the Air Force trying to be cheap in not supplying two sets of gear? Granted, this was almost 20 years ago now, so who knows what the gear situation is now with the Air Force.

    I know that sooner or later, all turnout gear saturates with heat, it seems to me that the aircraft gear could really mask conditions for longer, and turn you into a baked potato. Even if it is better able to protect a member from higher heat for longer, your face piece and air pack won't. I know the face piece I wear will start to fail before my gear will; at least on paper.
    Last edited by jasper45; 01-04-2009 at 02:23 PM.

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    Just another scenario....

    I know you said one of the issues was how hot it gets so it's impractical to spend time fighting a fire indoors with. But what about in the case of say an RIT? Firefighters who have no intention of spending any longer then absolutley nessecary to retrieve a downed FF. Could it maybe offer them the ability to go farther and give them the extra time to pull someone out?

    Just as a different scenario..,

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    jasper45:

    t's a question that I have had for years, and just remembered. Back when I graduated high school, and was contemplating my future plans, I was very fortunate to visit K.I. Sawyer AFB in northern Michigan, set up by an Air Force recruiter.

    Man, was that a great trip. It was planned well in advance, and we really had an all encompassing trip, visiting everything from the security police to the firehouses, to being fairly close to the flight line.
    Most impressive was the flight of 8 or so B-52's that landed and took off. I's hard to believe those planes could fly, I guess they're called BUFF for a reason.

    The BUFF, a big ugly killing machine that has been doing the job for over 50 years. When they fly into Mitchell they have to have wing walkers walk the plane out to the runway so they don't tear off the taxi way lights with the end of wing landing gear.

    FyredUp, here's the question for you, maybe you know having been a part of the ANG. The guys at Sawyer basically wore the silver stuff for everything, at least as far as I could tell with my uneducated eyes and ears.
    I don't remember how big of a department they staffed up there, but they did all of the structural fire protection and went off base to help the areas around there.

    From what I remember, the stuff the guys on the engines were wearing was not that stiff, and really resembled traditional structural gear, except for being silver.
    The guys on the aircraft rigs had what looked like big hoods that fit over their helmets. I don't remember any real differences between the rest of their gear, except for the boots. Maybe there were differences in it, I wasn't able to tell then, except for the big hoods and booties.

    If the stuff wasn't that stiff it was newer generation stuff. The first set I had was damn stiff. The last set of gear I had made by morning pride felt just like structural gear other than having the silver outer.

    We had phased out the space man hoods before I left. We still had them we just stopped using them and wore a Cairns 660 with a set of silver ear flaps. Those old hoods were an absolute BITCH! They were uncomfortable, top heavy, and hard to see out of. On top of that you wore your scba mask underneath that monster. There are ARFF rated fire boots, we just never had them when Iwas there.


    Is it even safe to wear that aircraft stuff in a building? And is it just the Air Force trying to be cheap in not supplying two sets of gear? Granted, this was almost 20 years ago now, so who knows what the gear situation is now with the Air Force.

    Funny thing is if they were trying to get by cheap it probably cost them more in the long run if guys got their gear replaced or repaired as the silver got worn off the knees. It really didn't take a whole lot of crawling to damaged the silver. I really don't know what was in their thought process for gear selection other than it was absolutely needed for air craft firefighting and probably sufficed in most structural scenarios.


    As I stated above I had the "dual purpose" gear for a while that had the removable silver outer so you could use it as "normal" structural gear. When I left they were talking about everyone getting seperate gear for structural fire fighting.



    I know that sooner or later, all turnout gear saturates with heat, it seems to me that the aircraft gear could really mask conditions for longer, and turn you into a baked potato. Even if it is better able to protect a member from higher heat for longer, your face piece and air pack won't. I know the face piece I wear will start to fail before my gear will; at least on paper.

    Exactly, and that is what happens. I was at a practice house burn and a firefighter in silvers decided he was goiung to show everyone how close he could get to the house and he got cooked pretty good because he didn't tell anyone that when he pointed at himself it meant he wanted water sprayed on him. It works great up to its limit. BUT, it is proximity gear, NOT entry gear. Entry gear is heavier, far more insulated and will take much more heat. It too will eventually get heat saturated and cook the guy inside.
    Personally, it is not what I would choose for structural gear. Heat saturation, or better yet heat indicating that it is time to leave, takes too long and once there it is not good. Huge difference between being outside fighting flammable liquids fires and being inside a structure where the heat builds and can't dissipate at all.

    What makes me chuckle is guys with brand new structural gear that says this gear will take heat to 1800 degees before degrading. I smile and say well at least your corpse will have a nice wrapper because even if your gear can take 1800 degrees you never will inside the gear. Heat saturation is as deadly if not more than the gear actually burning.

    I hope I answered your question...tear me a new one if I LA'd ya!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    Just another scenario....

    I know you said one of the issues was how hot it gets so it's impractical to spend time fighting a fire indoors with. But what about in the case of say an RIT? Firefighters who have no intention of spending any longer then absolutley nessecary to retrieve a downed FF. Could it maybe offer them the ability to go farther and give them the extra time to pull someone out?

    Just as a different scenario..,
    Again, too many factors in my mind make the silvers a bad choice. I don't want my RIT guys to get in deeper than they can safely because of a false sense of security. 6 or 7 or more additional dead are of no benefit to me or the FD. Wear the gear designed for the specific job.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 01-04-2009 at 04:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    The reason i ask is i would think that wearing proximity gear in a structural application would offer an advantage. The superior ability to reflect radiant heat would seem to be an advantage over conventional materials.
    Yeah, just like the aluminum foil you wrap your baked potato in right before throwing it in the oven. Yet the potato still bakes......hhhmmmmmmm.
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    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post

    I hope I answered your question...tear me a new one if I LA'd ya!!

    No, you answered it very well. I have no experience with aircraft firefighting. A couple of guys I work with served with the 128th, but we've never really ralked about their job or methods there.

    Besides, you were still talking about doing the job, unlike someone else!

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    Proximity Fire Fighting Clothing per the manufacturer IS NOT intended for use in a structural fire fighting environment. If you read the literature that is attached to the gear when it arrives from the factory, you'll have to leaf through it to find the exact paragraph. But it clearly states that Proximity clothing is not intended to be used in Structural situations.

    The Air Force has finally got on board with the new NFPA standard for several reasons. First, Proximity fire fighting clothing (outer shell) shall be retired after 5 years from the date of manufacturer and the liner at 10 years. Structural fire fighting clothing shall be retired at 10 years for both the outer shell and liner. Because of the cost that would be incurred to replace Proximity clothing for the thousands of Air Force fire fighters every 5 years, the Air Force decided to go with Structural clothing.

    The second reason for the transition is that since there are advancements in technology with respect to ARFF apparatus and aircraft fuels, the determination that the bulk of the fire can be knocked down using turrets and then personnel wearing structural clothing can move in with hand-lines to extinguish the remaining fire. Also, on cargo aircraft, the interior is considered a structural environment and the fact Proximity fire fighting clothing cannot "breathe: in that environment, structural clothing is preferred.

    Finally, the new NFPA standard states that should Proximity fire fighting clothing become contaminated either by fuel or other agents (i.e. biological or chemical), the clothing shall be immediately retired. This is because the Proximity clothing cannot be adequately washed using an approved washing device.

    Everyone had correct points. From the wear and tear of the garment reducing the level of protection to the user, to the fact that Proximity fire fighting clothing does not allow heat to escape, all points mentioned were considered when NFPA members sat down and thought through the new standards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kferrara2002 View Post
    Proximity Fire Fighting Clothing per the manufacturer IS NOT intended for use in a structural fire fighting environment. If you read the literature that is attached to the gear when it arrives from the factory, you'll have to leaf through it to find the exact paragraph. But it clearly states that Proximity clothing is not intended to be used in Structural situations.

    The Air Force has finally got on board with the new NFPA standard for several reasons. First, Proximity fire fighting clothing (outer shell) shall be retired after 5 years from the date of manufacturer and the liner at 10 years. Structural fire fighting clothing shall be retired at 10 years for both the outer shell and liner. Because of the cost that would be incurred to replace Proximity clothing for the thousands of Air Force fire fighters every 5 years, the Air Force decided to go with Structural clothing.

    The second reason for the transition is that since there are advancements in technology with respect to ARFF apparatus and aircraft fuels, the determination that the bulk of the fire can be knocked down using turrets and then personnel wearing structural clothing can move in with hand-lines to extinguish the remaining fire. Also, on cargo aircraft, the interior is considered a structural environment and the fact Proximity fire fighting clothing cannot "breathe: in that environment, structural clothing is preferred.

    Finally, the new NFPA standard states that should Proximity fire fighting clothing become contaminated either by fuel or other agents (i.e. biological or chemical), the clothing shall be immediately retired. This is because the Proximity clothing cannot be adequately washed using an approved washing device.

    Everyone had correct points. From the wear and tear of the garment reducing the level of protection to the user, to the fact that Proximity fire fighting clothing does not allow heat to escape, all points mentioned were considered when NFPA members sat down and thought through the new standards.
    when did this happen? and is it written anywhere. I work on an ANG Base and we carry 2 sets of gear right now..

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    I'll get you the message I received from my Headquarters and send it out to you via email. I should have it to you this week.

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