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  1. #1
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    Default NFPA or any regs regarding helmet accesories?

    Well apparently the chief of a Fire dept. I am on has a huge problem with people adding a flashlight or even the rubber band on our helmets. He states that if something happens to the firefighter that they will blame the added flashlight or band to try and get out of anything and say it caused the failure or defect.

    As long as the the stuff being added to the helmet meets NFPA standards is their really anything out there that states it can't be added to the helmet or it will void any warranty or anything of that nature? Or is it just the chiefs excuse to keep stuff off our helmets?

    If their is a NFPA standard stating something either way,which I could not find, could you please post it?


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    Besides a department policy signed by the Chief saying you can't? If it's completely irrational, talk to your union for support. A lot of people have their own beliefs and pet peeves, but that's just what a lot of them are.

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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Hey here's a really dumb suggestion, but since he's the Chief, why not just do as he asks and adhere to his policies and procedures?? I mean, after all, he IS the Chief you know.........Go ahead, **** him off and hand him some paperwork that says it's ok to have flashlights on your helmet, and watch him ball it up and throw it in the trashcan......You see where I am going with this?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mach158 View Post
    Well apparently the chief of a Fire dept. I am on has a huge problem with people adding a flashlight or even the rubber band on our helmets. He states that if something happens to the firefighter that they will blame the added flashlight or band to try and get out of anything and say it caused the failure or defect.

    As long as the the stuff being added to the helmet meets NFPA standards is their really anything out there that states it can't be added to the helmet or it will void any warranty or anything of that nature? Or is it just the chiefs excuse to keep stuff off our helmets?

    If their is a NFPA standard stating something either way,which I could not find, could you please post it?


    Some items will void the warrenty.


    The fire chief has issued a policy, not to add or subtract to any fire helmet.

    Abide it or seek other employment, plain and simple.

    Why can't you obey orders?
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Hey here's a really dumb suggestion, but since he's the Chief, why not just do as he asks and adhere to his policies and procedures?? I mean, after all, he IS the Chief you know.........Go ahead, **** him off and hand him some paperwork that says it's ok to have flashlights on your helmet, and watch him ball it up and throw it in the trashcan......You see where I am going with this?
    Just because he is the Chief, it's not reason enough to just blindly follow whatever decisions he makes. That said, you also have to pick your battles.

    This may not be something worth fighting in the grand scheme of things, but then again given the fact that pretty much every other FD in the country doesn't seem to be concerned about helmet bands and flashlights on helmets, it might be worth a discussion.

  6. #6
    Forum Member PaladinKnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Hey here's a really dumb suggestion, but since he's the Chief, why not just do as he asks and adhere to his policies and procedures?? I mean, after all, he IS the Chief you know.........Go ahead, **** him off and hand him some paperwork that says it's ok to have flashlights on your helmet, and watch him ball it up and throw it in the trashcan......You see where I am going with this?
    Well said FWD...

    Hey mach play along with me on this...

    You're the firefighter...

    I'm the Chief...

    You come to me and ask: "Can I modify my helmet.

    My answer: "No."

    You ask "Why."

    Me: "It's not your helmet."

    You: "Well I use it."

    Me: "Yes, but the taxpayer bought it for you to use, and I have the responsibility to make sure you follow policy."

    You: "I'll defer to a NFPA Standard."

    Me: "Go ahead, it is still not your helmet."

    You: "But I want it my way and I will ask many people what they think about this."

    Me: "You forgot to ask me if I care.... and one other thing... Why are you in my office taking up time on this issue when you should be trying very hard to not lose your job."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Point is this. The Chief does not have to give you reason. Just because you do not agree, does not mean you can change something by getting opinions. It is kinda like when you were a kid and you wanted to go out with the guys; Dad said "no." You might tell him that "all the other guys are going..." And then he replies with something like "I'm not the other guys dad" or "You not the one of those other guys."

    I have had guys file grievances over crap like this and unless they can prove it makes them safer, it goes no where. Policy is policy and SOPs are SOPs. Check your departments. If it aint in there, the Chief decides every time. The more you push, I guarantee the Chief can push back just a bit harder.

    Remember, being a firefighter is a privilege, not a right. If you screw up and give him cause for insubordination, the helmet will not matter will it?
    HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    Why can't you obey orders?
    I don't believe there was any indication that he wasn't obeying the order. He appeared to be looking for information that would address the Chief's concerns and make the rule unnecessary since the rationale for the rule (as presented here) appears to be about liability.

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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    Just because he is the Chief, it's not reason enough to just blindly follow whatever decisions he makes. That said, you also have to pick your battles.

    This may not be something worth fighting in the grand scheme of things, but then again given the fact that pretty much every other FD in the country doesn't seem to be concerned about helmet bands and flashlights on helmets, it might be worth a discussion.



    As your profile indicates you been in the fire service for 16 years. Also by looking at what you have indicating what you age is, year born 1986, this means you started in this area at 8 years old! I very seriously doubt if you were allowed out of your yard at that age.

    Pal I had over 40 years on when I retired. I also was an administrator in the Adm Office. I also served 6 years in the Army from 57-63, which meant I was in hostile areas. I followed orders to the "T". I followed orders to the "T" while in my many jobs in the fire service.

    This is not a college debating club, where we pick and choose what orders we want to follow and those that we don't, we say , the heck with the chief, what does he know. I am going to put a spreader on my helmet!
    I sure would liked to have you came before me for a violation(s) of rules and regulations. You may have done it once, but not again.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Forum Member PaladinKnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    Just because he is the Chief, it's not reason enough to just blindly follow whatever decisions he makes. That said, you also have to pick your battles.

    This may not be something worth fighting in the grand scheme of things, but then again given the fact that pretty much every other FD in the country doesn't seem to be concerned about helmet bands and flashlights on helmets, it might be worth a discussion.
    Hey FM, that isn't the point is it? The Chief has already been challenged on his decision or a policy. Any further conversation is most likely going to become the issue and not the helmet.

    I had several Chiefs that I did not agree with on everything, but I did not ever make a big deal over little things. You can land on the SL alot easier than you can get off.

    Once you're labled as Problem Child. Your days become difficult. Promotions seem to be just out of reach and the dirty jobs seem to never end. If he is a new guy with less than one year in, he might not make the year in review.

    His choice is to follow orders and try to outlast the Chief and hope for a more reasonable situation.

    And about blindly following a Chief... are you suggesting that you don't have a duty to follow orders? You're giving him some bad advice if you go that way... Insubordination, Dereliction of duty, just to name a few...
    Last edited by PaladinKnight; 02-13-2010 at 11:26 PM.
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    I help teach a firefighter survival class that has a lot of entanglement drilling into it. We try to make it somewhat realistic and use the wiring out of that flex duct and some scrap wiring. The two biggest things we see get tangled up are helmet mounted flashlights and the eagle on traditional helmets.

    I'm guessing 90% of the people who take this class take the helmet-mounted flashlights off and buy a 90-degree light for their coat afterwards.

    Aside from that, the chief said no, abide by that decision as he's the one ultimately responsible for you, your actions, your equipment, and the department in general..

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    As your profile indicates you been in the fire service for 16 years. Also by looking at what you have indicating what you age is, year born 1986, this means you started in this area at 8 years old! I very seriously doubt if you were allowed out of your yard at that age.

    Pal I had over 40 years on when I retired. I also was an administrator in the Adm Office. I also served 6 years in the Army from 57-63, which meant I was in hostile areas. I followed orders to the "T". I followed orders to the "T" while in my many jobs in the fire service.

    This is not a college debating club, where we pick and choose what orders we want to follow and those that we don't, we say , the heck with the chief, what does he know. I am going to put a spreader on my helmet!
    I sure would liked to have you came before me for a violation(s) of rules and regulations. You may have done it once, but not again.
    Apparently there's an error in the database since I was born much sooner than 1986.

    40 years of service is pretty impressive and I'll likely be around there when I retire. I also served 6 years in the military (USMC) and know how to follow orders too, but is any of this history really relevant here?

    My point, which you apparently missed, was that just because it comes from the Chief, it doesn't mean that the order, SOP or whatever is right, proper or even relevant and to blindly follow every thing he or any other leader says may not be a good course.

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    Looks like everybody agrees with the Chief. Good job guys, way to follow chain of command. Thought that was a lost art for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mach158 View Post
    If their is a NFPA standard stating something either way,which I could not find, could you please post it?
    Interesting that all anybody seems to be able to do is tell you not to question your Chief, yet nobody has answered the main question, IS there standards for helmet "stuff" and what are they.

    I don't know myself so i cannot answer. But since the topic has come up, i am curious now too. Hopefully someone can answer the question instead of talking about everything else

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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    Interesting that all anybody seems to be able to do is tell you not to question your Chief, yet nobody has answered the main question, IS there standards for helmet "stuff" and what are they.

    I don't know myself so i cannot answer. But since the topic has come up, i am curious now too. Hopefully someone can answer the question instead of talking about everything else
    Thats just everybody's answer because nobody knows. It tends to happen here alot.
    You see I didnt know so I posted something not relevant. HA HA

  15. #15
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    Post Hmm..............

    Well, I would offer one point - "Blindly Obeying" the Chief can get you killed, or it can get you through a long and successful Career - Depends on the Chief. I was a bit more rash in my younger days, and I have certainly questioned a few Chief's policies over the years. And, I have had my policies questioned as well. Point is, there is a mechanism for questioning Policy or Procedure, and that Mechanism should be used.

    I'll also add this, in public forum - The NFPA can go fly a kite. People need to understand that the NFPA creates consensus Standards. Not Rules, Not Regulations, Not Laws, just a Standard that should reflect best practices in a given subject area. Note that I said "Should", since this is one area where I think that a few of the Brotherhood have lost sight of the idea that we should have each other's backs all the time. I don't think that I've ever questioned the need to be able to perform our duties in a manner that will see that we go home after the job is done, but some of the NFPA "Standards" are excessive, to say the least.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    Hey FM, that isn't the point is it?
    I don't know, but it was my point though.

    And about blindly following a Chief... are you suggesting that you don't have a duty to follow orders? You're giving him some bad advice if you go that way... Insubordination, Dereliction of duty, just to name a few...
    I'm not suggesting anything of the sorts. I'm suggesting that there are times in which you should question what you believe to be bad decisions. This doesn't mean throwing a tantrum because you aren't getting your way. It can be something as simple as just asking for an explanation of the order.

    A good leader should have no problem with explaining their orders. Obviously, for most orders on scene that explanation should take place back at the station and sometimes the explanation may be "because I said so".

  17. #17
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    NFPA1971 4.3.15

    Any change in the design, construction, or material of a compliant product shall necessitate new inspection and testing to verify compliance to all applicable requirements of this standard that the certification organization determines can be affected by such change. This recertification shall be conducted before labeling the modified product as being compliant with standard.
    I researched NFPA1971 and found no mention concerning helmet lights. So it seems that helmet lights are not considered PPE. With that in mind, along with the above section, changing or modifying a Certified/Compliant product suggests that the product would be out of Compliance until the product had been tested to verify compliance. Since I am not a Certified testing organization, I do not feel that I am qualified to properly test the product and certify it.

    But since when did we really take NFPA serious anyway? Can anyone here really tell me that they are 100% compliant with NFPA? We seem to be pretty good about picking and choosing until we find one we can't comply with or we decide to ignore out of convenience.

    So here you go... as Catch suggested, a light might be a good way to get tangled up. I know he is right when he states that many guys go to the chest light after a mayday or close encounter class.

    Of course, if your department lets you mount lights on your helmet, then great. It should not be an issue until someone gets their head ripped out of the socket will it? Then the department might take another look at it if the lawsuit goes against them due to the modified helmet.

    Maybe I'm reaching, but I think this entire discussion is mote. The Chief gave his reason, which is more than I would have done. In his mind, and by the way he interprets NFPA1971, he is correct. And that is all that matters.

    And one more time... and keep in mind... I am not trying to pick a fight or give anyone an issue...

    If you belong to a fire departrment, you are compelled to follow the chain of command, and orders.

    If you disobey an order, or "protest", you can be sure it will be noted by your superior. So by stating in broad terms that "just because he is an officer", following his orders might not be the best course, opens the door for the notation.

    My only suggestion is if someone chooses to disobey, then they better be ready to put their career on the line. For your sake, all hell better break loose and you better prove to be correct. Or you better be ready to challenge the 'legality' of the order. In the due process hearing, if the Chief's or commanders actions are justified, and your disobedience has no merit, you're gone. This should not be confused with 'fear' or 'lack of training' which can be argued to be a valid excuse for non-compliance; but you better state correctly that your are 'afraid', or you 'are not trained'.

    You must understand that the commanders decisions or orders cannot be debated when given. Decisions are based upon 'factors' and orders must be followed as given. If an order is given to carry out a mission that could change the overall picture, good or bad, the success or lack thereof is immediately placed upon the commanders shoulders. If you fail to carry out an order and it is proven that you screwed up and it cost someone or something, kiss your life goodbye.

    In a volunteer organization, this may not apply since volunteers usually do not take an oath, or receive the training to do some jobs. But volunteers can be dismissed without cause, even if they push the Chief into a discussion over his policies.

    So why bite a dog on the tail when you know he will bite back?


    Added:

    A good leader should have no problem with explaining their orders. Obviously, for most orders on scene that explanation should take place back at the station and sometimes the explanation may be "because I said so".
    I think we agree. A good leader will not have any problem explaining and discussing a topic, even his decisions... until it continues to be revisited. And there is nothing wrong about asking the Chief or commander why he ordered something a certain way on a scene. It is only the challenging aspect that cause red flags. If it is to learn, then it will be identifed as such.

    I can't tell you that every Chief or Officer will always be right. I have seen plenty call it wrong and it will happen many times over. What I am trying to suggest is, if you truly beleive that you will be killed if you follow orders, don't follow orders. Nothing is worth that. But if someone else follows the order and nothing happens, then you're holding an empty hand. So your only fall back is "I did not have the proper training" or "I was afraid". I know... it sucks, but it's better than getting a big boot broken off in your back side and on the UE line.
    Last edited by PaladinKnight; 02-14-2010 at 01:31 AM.
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  18. #18
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    How will these "modifications" affect you if you are injured?

    Many times, the Workers Compensation folks are looking for an "out" when it comes to paying a claim. If they can attribute the modication(s) you made to your PPE, you may have alot of explaining to do and/or delay in getting your medical bills paid.

    Bear in mind that these folks are not firefighters and often have very little understanding on how we do our jobs. They often see issues in "black and white" and/or right and wrong. Said another way, did he or she follow the "rules" - your department, the city that employs you, applicable state and federal laws, and etc.? Did you inspect your PPE this morning when you came to work? Do you inspect it before and after EACH use? Blah, blah, blah. You get the point.

    Something as "simple" as mounting a flashlight to your helmet may result in an adjuster licking his chops to not pay a claim. Did the mounted flashlight screw up the center of gravity?; Was it mounted correctly? Would he or she have sustained this injury had the flashlight not been mounted there in the first place?; Did the helmet manufacturer approve for this after-market modification to take place?; Did this modification void the helmet manufacturers warranty?; Why did the member make this modification in spite of the fire chief NOT approving it?; and etc.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WD6956 View Post
    Interesting that all anybody seems to be able to do is tell you not to question your Chief, yet nobody has answered the main question, IS there standards for helmet "stuff" and what are they.

    I don't know myself so i cannot answer. But since the topic has come up, i am curious now too. Hopefully someone can answer the question instead of talking about everything else
    IT DOESN'T FREAKING MATTER IF A STANDARD EXISTS OR NOT. The CHIEF of Department (not just a Company Lieutenant or Captain....Not a Batallion Chief or even a Division Chief....or a Deputy Chief.....THE CHIEF himself!!) has issued a verbal statement that equipment (the helmet) is not to be altered. Consider it an order. Follow it.

    Will the order place your life in danger? Will it place other's lives in danger? Then you have no choice. Follow the order, or as others have stated, seek employment elsewhere.

    I'm willing to bet that of the posters on here who are challenging the Chief's Directive have:
    A. Never served in any branch of the United States Military, AND/OR
    B. Are less than 25 years old, with less than 5 years experience in the fire service, and all with slow volunteer outfits that have no written standard or policy on the Unified Chain of Command.
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 02-14-2010 at 08:41 AM.
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    it matters to everyone else here who isn't in that department. It is of interest to know if NFPA or any other industry organization has information on how mounted flashlights could negatively effect the helmet. Its a common and widespread modification, be interesting to see how the manufacturers feel about it.

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