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    Default Whats with the West/SW's helmet difference?

    Im a noob, but I have noticed a difference in departments Southwest and over to the West coast...like parts of Texas, Arizona, over, wear a different style helmet than the departments I see over here in the Midwest/East coast. They don't have badges in the front and look phallic in shape...

    The point of this thread:

    Can't you west coast guys buy your own if you want? As long its the correct color?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bimmernate View Post
    Can't you west coast guys buy your own if you want? As long its the correct color?
    Yep, everyone on the West Coast, regardless of where they work, can buy their own helmet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfd1992 View Post
    Yep, everyone on the West Coast, regardless of where they work, can buy their own helmet.


    Oh they can huh?
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bimmernate View Post
    Im a noob, but I have noticed a difference in departments Southwest and over to the West coast...like parts of Texas, Arizona, over, wear a different style helmet than the departments I see over here in the Midwest/East coast. They don't have badges in the front and look phallic in shape...

    The point of this thread:

    Can't you west coast guys buy your own if you want? As long its the correct color?
    You just named a huge difference in firefighting style and methodology. Where you live influences every aspect of your job.

    the whole "East Coast/West Coast" thing applies to helmets as well. What you've noiticed is that a lot of east coasters use "traditional" style helmets. Some are like NYFD, using the Cairns N5A or N6A in leather, basically the same helmet worn by great grand-dad 100 or more years ago.

    there are other traditional style helmets that are made of modern materials and only look old fashioned.

    A lot of depts out west use "Modern" helmets, the so-called phallic shape you referred to in your post. BTW, is that some kind of slam on west coasters ? jk

    It comes down to practicality. a leather helmet will last your entire career, you change shields when promoted and keep the same helmet. about $ 500.00 per

    My experience with modern helmets are that they last 2-3 years while working as a pro. Now as a vol, a modern helmet would last me another 20 years or so. (safeco) about $110.00 per

    traditional helmets made of modern materials are about 180 to 200+ depending. the shield costs about $60.00

    I like the traditional, but due to practical reasons our dept chose the phenix 1500, it's seen in calif alot. We have a WUI target hazard so we chose the "calif soup bowl". it is primarily a wildland helmet but is certified and rated for structural use. it's very light and the dual-purpose design is why we chose it. these were $ 190.00 w/ googles. it's great for extrication too. I was leary until I wore one, i would have no problem going interior wearing it.

    I know PHX FD tried the cairns 1040 and they decided against it, the biggest gripe was the height of the helmet affected balance, it tended to fall off. also noted was the traditional was "pointy" and tended to snag on things and hang up. otherwise, it was a toss up. I know glendale FD(or possibly another auto-aid dept) has gone to traditional. dont know if leather or modern material.

    theres also a preponderance of rota-ray and mars type lights and mech sirens back east. not seen too often out here.

    as for the badge, our PASS and markings usually correspond with rank.

    My personal feeling is that the older the community, the more hooked into traditional things the depts will be. communities back east are 200 years old in some cases. a lot of older west coast towns SF and SD, are older than the area in between. so you'll see SF and SD wearing traditional, but PHX and tucson wear moderns.

    every dept varies on whether or not the members can buy/use their own stuff. I wore a modern for 20+ years and never saw the need to buy my own or "upgrade" to a traditional. If I did, I would have been the only one in the county with a traditional helmet.

    Our dept allows you to buy/wear your own gear, as long as it meets our standards. But we wont replace it if it's worn or damaged, as we have gear for you to wear.

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    Hehe popknot I assure you there was no poking at the West. I was just wondering and your post was extremely helpful, I really appreciate it. I had just seen the difference and wasn't sure whether FFs had the option, say, if they were to move and had their own reasons for the "Traditional" type.

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    Whats widely used in California-

    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 08-23-2009 at 02:59 AM.

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    There are plenty of departments on the West Coast that wear the traditional style helmets, even many places that allow leathers. Just because LA City and County wear the phenix style doesn't neccesarily make them the most common, and there are probably plenty of places on the East coast that wear more modern style helmets. It's not a strictly East vs. West Coast thing.

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    I would say pretty much the entire bay area/northern california is far more traditionally based with leather helmets, leather boots, and black turnouts. Southern California uses the Phenix First due helmet, yellow turnouts, and rubber boots such as large departments like LAFD.

    3/4 of California does not wear the Phenix First due. Remember it.

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    I would still say about 70% of California wears the Phenix helmet. And leather boots are found statewide, not just in the Bay Area.

    After 9/11, a lot of departments jumped on the East Coast traditional look alike bandwagon. But now that time has passed, we are slowly getting back to our regular ways. Leather helmets and black turn outs are over rated and don't do anything special.

    As Firefighters get older and mature in their careers, they slowly see function is more important than looking a certain part.

    Quote Originally Posted by catscratch View Post
    Just because LA City and County wear the phenix style doesn't neccesarily make them the most common
    A big misconception here. LA City and County do not set the standard, they just get more camera time.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 08-23-2009 at 03:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    I would still say about 70% of California wears the Phenix helmet. And leather boots are found statewide, not just in the Bay Area.

    After 9/11, a lot of departments jumped on the East Coast traditional look alike bandwagon. But now that time has passed, we are slowly getting back to our regular ways. Leather helmets and black turn outs are over rated and don't do anything special.

    If they jumped on the band wagon for traditional helmets after 9/11 then they did it for looks and perhaps as a sign of respect for those that lost their lives.

    I personally like black turn out gear and having used yellow, black, and tan I haven't noticed any difference in temperature inside the gear while working. Heck, if you like yellow or tan good for you.

    Funny thing is in most cases turnouts are issued OR a standard is set for what you can buy personally to use. There really is no freelancing of PPE.


    As Firefighters get older and mature in their careers, they slowly see function is more important than looking a certain part.

    Really? Show me where a traditional helmet won't protect me as well or perhaps better than a "Modern" helmet. They both have to meet the same NFPA standard don't they.

    It really just boils down to what your department issues OR a matter of preference in style.


    A big misconception here. LA City and County do not set the standard, they just get more camera time.

    No one except local PPE committees sets the standard, in accordance with NFPA of course) for either of the FD's I am with or the tech college I teach for.
    East Coast, west coast, midwest...who cares, buy what you want and use it properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    East Coast, west coast, midwest...who cares, buy what you want and use it properly.

    Very true. It is funny how the color of turnout gear is constantly brought up over and over and over by certain guys. The color has no relevance in the level of protection that the gear gives you, that is all about the TPP rating.

    Depending on what the choice for a vapor barrier is, that entirely determines the comfort level of the gear, as well as the amount of protection it will provide.
    The Janesville we wear has a TPP of 50 I believe, just off the top of my head, and it is tan. I can tell you that this stuff is far hotter and retains far more body heat than the Bristol I used to wear, which was black and had a TPP rating of 40.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Very true. It is funny how the color of turnout gear is constantly brought up over and over and over by certain guys. The color has no relevance in the level of protection that the gear gives you, that is all about the TPP rating.

    Depending on what the choice for a vapor barrier is, that entirely determines the comfort level of the gear, as well as the amount of protection it will provide.
    The Janesville we wear has a TPP of 50 I believe, just off the top of my head, and it is tan. I can tell you that this stuff is far hotter and retains far more body heat than the Bristol I used to wear, which was black and had a TPP rating of 40.
    Hey Brother,

    I don't think I ever thanked you properly for the strong support you gave me during my banning. Thanks for having my back.

    Bristol turn outs...would love to have my Boston spec Bristol gear back out in volly land. Light, comfortable, worked well and wore fantastically. Now we have, I think Quaker, and while it is nice stuff, it is bulkier, stiffer and heavier. Ah, sweet progress.

    Seriously, it must be progress it is tan...not black like the Bristol was.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 08-23-2009 at 01:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    I would still say about 70% of California wears the Phenix helmet. And leather boots are found statewide, not just in the Bay Area.

    After 9/11, a lot of departments jumped on the East Coast traditional look alike bandwagon. But now that time has passed, we are slowly getting back to our regular ways. Leather helmets and black turn outs are over rated and don't do anything special.

    As Firefighters get older and mature in their careers, they slowly see function is more important than looking a certain part.


    A big misconception here. LA City and County do not set the standard, they just get more camera time.
    I find that the West coast is more accepting of change and a bit more progressive in moving forward technologically. We had progressed and gotten some nice lightweight, efficient, helmets. After 9-11 some knucklehead decided to buy his own traditional helmet then pushed for the change backwards. After he got his way he quit. As they say in the city DoooucheBAG!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I find that the West coast is more accepting of change and a bit more progressive in moving forward technologically. We had progressed and gotten some nice lightweight, efficient, helmets. After 9-11 some knucklehead decided to buy his own traditional helmet then pushed for the change backwards. After he got his way he quit. As they say in the city DoooucheBAG!!!!
    So what is your department made up of? A bunch of sheep? Or perhaps lemmings?

    ONE GUY, BUYING A HELMET ON HIS OWN, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ENTIRE DEPARTMENT CHANGING HELMETS? Was he the Chief or did he hold you all at gunpoint until you agreed?

    What a bunch of BS, more than one guy wnated this or it wouldn't have happened, and you know it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I find that the West coast is more accepting of change and a bit more progressive in moving forward technologically. We had progressed and gotten some nice lightweight, efficient, helmets. After 9-11 some knucklehead decided to buy his own traditional helmet then pushed for the change backwards. After he got his way he quit. As they say in the city DoooucheBAG!!!!
    You are a real peice of work
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Originally Posted by CALFFBOU
    I would still say about 70% of California wears the Phenix helmet. And leather boots are found statewide, not just in the Bay Area.

    After 9/11, a lot of departments jumped on the East Coast traditional look alike bandwagon. But now that time has passed, we are slowly getting back to our regular ways. Leather helmets and black turn outs are over rated and don't do anything special.

    If they jumped on the band wagon for traditional helmets after 9/11 then they did it for looks and perhaps as a sign of respect for those that lost their lives.
    No, it was purely to jump on the national bandwagon.

    I personally like black turn out gear and having used yellow, black, and tan I haven't noticed any difference in temperature inside the gear while working. Heck, if you like yellow or tan good for you.
    Without a doubt, black is more hotter and I have worn all of them- yellow, tan and black. Black is the hottest color in the spectrum, the bottom of the Space shuttle has black tils to absorb heat and black paint on cars fails the fastest.


    Funny thing is in most cases turnouts are issued OR a standard is set for what you can buy personally to use. There really is no freelancing of PPE.

    As Firefighters get older and mature in their careers, they slowly see function is more important than looking a certain part.

    Really? Show me where a traditional helmet won't protect me as well or perhaps better than a "Modern" helmet. They both have to meet the same NFPA standard don't they.
    Its not about protection, its about the extra weight. Plus leather breaks down faster over time.


    It really just boils down to what your department issues OR a matter of preference in style.

    A big misconception here. LA City and County do not set the standard, they just get more camera time.

    No one except local PPE committees sets the standard, in accordance with NFPA of course) for either of the FD's I am with or the tech college I teach for.

    True, PPE committees set the standard and in California, some standards were changed after 9/11 for son reason other than a certain look. Fuction should come first, not a fashion show.
    Responded back to your remarks in blue.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 08-23-2009 at 02:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    So what is your department made up of? A bunch of sheep? Or perhaps lemmings?

    ONE GUY, BUYING A HELMET ON HIS OWN, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ENTIRE DEPARTMENT CHANGING HELMETS? Was he the Chief or did he hold you all at gunpoint until you agreed?

    What a bunch of BS, more than one guy wnated this or it wouldn't have happened, and you know it.
    Believable. Like I have been trying to tell you, some parts of California jumped on the 9/11 fad bandwagon. Some guys instantly developed an accent.

    Sure we respect and support, but I dont see where we need to throw all of our standards out the window and start over.

    Like I said, the heavy traditional helmets are slowly getting put away and we are getting back to our regular ways.

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    There are guys, who never have worn traditional helmets, pushing for traditional helmets instead of our salad bowls.

    When I ask them why, they say "the look".

    Fact is they are twice as heavy as what we currently use, are bulkier and would not work at all in a wildland situation.

    When I try to explain this, the are still hung up on "the look".

    In addition they are twice the price for the same level of protection, so they make no sense from a budgetary standpoint.

    I actually prefer my saladbowl compared to the traditionals I wore when volunteering with 2 past departments. They are far more practical.

    I agree with Scarecrow that the western US fire service is far more progressive and open to change. Intergration of EMS, NIMS and continuing command/control developments are just a few examples.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-23-2009 at 02:59 PM.

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    After 9/11, I had several Intern/Students tell me- "Capt- Where is your traditional helmet???" I told them- What? I don't need one and asked them why? All they could say was- "TRADITION!!!"

    I asked them- So I need to go out and buy a different helmet, something a lot more heavier, likes to slide around when I sweat and going to put more weight on my spinal column over the duration of my career? And all they could respond to that was- "TRADITION!!"

    Later on, those same students and I went on a structure fire. During overhaul, ALL of them would take their helmets off because they got tired of the extra weight. I ordered them to don all of those helmets back on. They were not happy. You wanted it, you eat it.

    Later on, I found out one of the biggest traditional pushers (A fellow Captain) wised up and went out and bought a Phenix 1500.

    I guess people just wise up with age, education and experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    Without a doubt, black is more hotter and I have worn all of them- yellow, tan and black. Black is the hottest color in the spectrum, the bottom of the Space shuttle has black tils to absorb heat and black paint on cars fails the fastest.

    I don't mean to argue with you, but the color has nothing to do with how hot the gear is. Yes, I realize that black absorbs more heat than a light color, but that has nothing to do with turnout gear, and whether or not black is hotter.

    There are far better arguments to make than the heat retention, and the color of the shell. For instance, black typically will cost more, because the natural color of a lot of these fibers is tan, which means that the fabric must be dyed to black; that's another step in the typical manufacturing process, which means more cost to produce.
    You could argue that the color tan allows the gear to show wear easier, or more visibly, but you can't argue the heat retention.

    The heat retention is all based on the vapor barrier, and with it, the corresponding TPP rating. The higher the TPP rating, the more the gear will retain heat, which means the hotter the user will feel while wearing that set of gear.

    As far as helmets, I've never endorsed any leather helmet, and I wear plastic, as it is what was issued to me.
    I've never had a problem with weight, and there are several models of traditional helmets that are completely comparable to the Phenix. The Phenix is very comfortable, but no more so than my Conway, or the 880's that we're issued now.
    If you're going to use the practicality argument with a helmet, which I agree with, you need to be consistent. There are plenty of traditional composites that are as comfortable as the Phenix, provide as much, and do no more harm to your neck than the non-traditional styles.

    And for the record, we did have an opportunity to demo a Phenix two years ago. It is a great helmet, but so is the 880.

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    Default Fire Helmets

    We use Bullard in our department (composite department, central ontario region) and many of the neighbouring departments use Bullard or something similar. It retains some of the traditional look of a FDNY fire helmet but is much more streamlined. The boat tail at the back has become smaller to the point where it has almost become an after thought. It's just big enough to redirect water away from the fire fighter's neck. I just completed one of my volunteer modules at the Ontario Fire College and a number of fire fighters from other departments had the traditional FDNY helmet. They also complained about how it tended to unbalance them and slip around on their head once they had built up a sweat. They also complained that the patch holder (an eagle or, up here, a beaver) tended to snag on just about anything and everything. The wide boat tail also tended to impinge on their SCBA cylinder when on their hands and knees doing search and rescue. So I think that I will stick with my Bullard.

    One of the instructors was field testing a new helmet for his department. I'm not sure of the make but it was one of the european designs (ie like the Cromwell). He indicated that the design had only just been certified by NFPA and that a number of departments were considering it for future purchase. This would seem to also include Toronto Fire. That being said, while I think many departments are willing to move away from the FDNY design towards a more streamlined helmet, I think more time will have to pass before the Darth Vadar look is accepted in most North American fire departments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    There are guys, who never have worn traditional helmets, pushing for traditional helmets instead of our salad bowls.

    So what? They both meet NFPA and if a guy is willing to buy his own helmet how does it hurt you?
    When I ask them why, they say "the look".

    Fact is they are twice as heavy as what we currently use, are bulkier and would not work at all in a wildland situation.

    BS. Leather is heavier, I'll agree to that. But my plastic traditional looking Ben Franklin, Chieftain and older Morning Pride don't wear anymore than my salad bowl modern Cairns 660C I use at work. Frankly, the weight issue really isn't an issue for anyone but the guy wearing the helmet.

    When I try to explain this, the are still hung up on "the look".

    And you are still hung up on shooting from the hip with no facts or evidence to back up your nonsense. The look can be accomplished with a plastic NFPA approved helmet that weighs the same as your new wave salad bowl helmet. If it makes the guys happy, and it meets the standards, what is the big deal? Other than your obvious anti-big city attitude what's the problem if a guy wants to buy his own traditional helmet?

    In addition they are twice the price for the same level of protection, so they make no sense from a budgetary standpoint.

    Both my career and volly FD's issue Cairns 660C Metro helmets. Both also offer the option of the individual purchasing a tradional helmet that is the appropriate color for your rank. My career FD has a list of plastic tradional helmets that are allowed. Leathers are not allowed. My volly FD has no rules other than what ever you buy must meet the current NFPA standard at time of purchase. Since the individual is buying the helmet it has ZERO budgetary effect. What a concept...let the individual decide and then spend their own money of they choose a traditional helmet.

    I actually prefer my saladbowl compared to the traditionals I wore when volunteering with 2 past departments. They are far more practical.

    This is nothing more than a subjective personal opinion. How is your salad bowl more practical than a traditional? Actually, the traditional offers far more protection to the back of the neck from embers, or hot water, or melted tar. Again, I see it as nothing more than your anti-big city bias, as well as that style being more traditional than anything objective you can use to support your view.

    I agree with Scarecrow that the western US fire service is far more progressive and open to change. Intergration of EMS, NIMS and continuing command/control developments are just a few examples.

    Because you are in tune with exactly what is going on in the fire service all over the country...RIGHT? If I were you I would be more concerned with how far behind Louisiana is to a mid-western state like Wisconsin when it comes to training, not only in firefighting skills, but in NIMS, Haz-Mat. anti-terrorism, wildland firefighting, offering of National Fire Academy out reach programs, EMS, including in the rural parts of the state, and more that escapes me right now.

    Once again, it is not a contest. The west cost has its type of construction and problems and the east coast has its own. You don't see the east coast states burning themselves down almost every year with wildland fires and you don't see the west coast states having big fires in older buildings. Neither is better than the other they just have different issues. Besides, anyone with any knowledge of the fire service knows the midwest is the place to be to be a real firefighter anyways!!
    If you like the salad bowl, wear it, but back your argument with facts instead of personal opinion with nothing to support it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    I don't mean to argue with you, but the color has nothing to do with how hot the gear is. Yes, I realize that black absorbs more heat than a light color, but that has nothing to do with turnout gear, and whether or not black is hotter.

    There are far better arguments to make than the heat retention, and the color of the shell. For instance, black typically will cost more, because the natural color of a lot of these fibers is tan, which means that the fabric must be dyed to black; that's another step in the typical manufacturing process, which means more cost to produce.
    You could argue that the color tan allows the gear to show wear easier, or more visibly, but you can't argue the heat retention.

    The heat retention is all based on the vapor barrier, and with it, the corresponding TPP rating. The higher the TPP rating, the more the gear will retain heat, which means the hotter the user will feel while wearing that set of gear.

    I invite you to come out to California, wear all of the different color turnouts, do to a working incident in all of them and get back to me.

    When my department made the switch just to look more traditional, some of the other members quietly chirped- "The new turnouts are a little warmer to work in." Well, da!

    Again- I have worn all colors and found my observation and experience is in alignment with modern science- Black absorbs and retained heat. You can play the silly words games, doctor it up and slice it any way you want, thats just the way it is.

    And until you traditionalist find a better way, NASA will continue to put black tiles on the bottom of the Space Shuttle to absorb heat during re-entry. Thats just plain science.

    And nextly- Visibility, black is hard to see at night. Oh Lordly, yes I know about the reflective trim, hold on there Traditional Cowboy! That same trim fades away, flacks off and gets dull. Having a crew wearing black, I could see the difference at night. The trim works well when new, but fades over time. And that is the indicator I am going to be looking for when looking for YOU when you go down.

    Again, tradition is nice, but you can fool common sense and science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    The west cost has its type of construction and problems and the east coast has its own. You don't see the east coast states burning themselves down almost every year with wildland fires and you don't see the west coast states having big fires in older buildings. Neither is better than the other they just have different issues.
    BS!

    First- The West Coast does not "burn itself down almost every year". We have major fires, but thats not because we try to burn ourselves down as you state.

    Next- I see FLORIDA and NEW YORK having major wildland fires every year. The FDNY uses their wildland rigs on a regular basis.

    FDNY brush truck, www.firematic.com/brat/fdny_skid_unit


    Last- LA City and County Fire fight high rise and large commercial fires a regular basis. This is not some thing exclusive to the East Coast.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 08-23-2009 at 03:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    BS!

    First- The West Coast does not "burn itself down almost every year". We have major fires, but thats not because we try to burn ourselves down as you state.

    Nah, your right. People don't rebuild their combustible houses over and over in the same areas that burn down every couple of years.

    Next- I see FLORIDA and NEW YORK having major wildland fires every year. The FDNY uses their wildland rigs on a regular basis.

    I will give you that Florida does have plenty of wildland fires. Funny thing is I can't recall EVER seeing a major wildland fire in the FDNY territory that burned for days and took out dozens if not hundreds of homes.

    Last- LA City and County Fire fight high rise and large commercial fires a regular basis. This is not some thing exclusive to the East Coast.

    You missed my point, not surprising since you have huge west cost bias. The building construction is different on the east coast. Particularly if you look at the age of the buildings. But that's okay, most people like to think their hazards are worse than anyone elses.
    Perspective...it's everything.

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