1. #1
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    Default Paying for your own gear

    I'm curious to see how many career departments make members purchase and maintain their own bunker gear (helmet, coat, pants, boots, hood, gloves). I've worked for the federal government and two large metro departments that all had a quartermaster system that handled everything. Anything required was given to us and replaced as necessary. My current department buys our first set of gear, but after that, we're on our own for the rest of our career.

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    I'd be very cautious about having to purchase your future sets of PPE. I would imagine some guys would "make due" with something that should probably be replaced. Our bunker pants & coats are replaced every 5 years, helmets every 10 years and gloves, hoods and boots as needed (usually about 3-5 years depending on how rough you are on them)... all at dept expensive. This also helps assure that our FFs are wearing quality gear that is NFPA compliant.

    Station uniforms are replaced through a (minimal) uniform allowance after an initial issue when you're hired.

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    Default Buying your own gear

    It would seem to me that there would be huge legal implications if it were left up to firefighters to purchase their own gear. Here in Ontario (the province, not the city in California) it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that all fire fighters are properly outfitted with compliant gear. I belong to a volunteer hall and all PPE is provided by the municipality. The municipality is also responsible for ensuring that the gear is replaced at appropriate intervals (again by the employer not the individual) and that it is inspected by an authorised inspection center once a year. If the Ministry of Labour were to pull a snap hall inspection, which has been known to happen, and they found out of date PPE, even if it was in good repair, they would be all over the municipality and warnings or significant fines would probably follow. God help the employer if a fire fighter was actually injured and it was discovered that he was wearing non compliant gear.

    I realise that this is primarily an American web site and maybe things are different down there. But leaving it up to individual fire fighters to purchase their own gear is unheard of in my experience, even for volunteer departments. You wear what the town issues you and if it wears out before it's expiration date then the town has to replace it. You might get away with buying your own boots or auto ex gloves if you don't like what the department has issued you, but you best make sure that it meets all regulations and guidelines before you wear it on an actual scene or in training.

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    Up until 2002, we purchased, maintained and handled all of our gear, individually. All members were issued gear upon completion of recruit school, and that was it.
    We were issued a "bigger" clothing allowance then, as opposed to now, which was supposed to cover everything from station wear to turnout gear.

    Every January we had a clothing inspection. At this time all turnout gear was brought to the academy to be inspected by administration. All repairs were expected to be completed within a period of time set forth by admin.
    It was virtually impossible to keep gear in a safe, working condition, and stay within the clothing allowance benefit each year; never mind the fact that gear was condemned and needed to be replaced, also.

    There were guys who would cheat the system, and share gear, etc... The only thing I liked about it was that I could, if I wanted to spend the money, have top of the line gear. Today, we wear what I consider to be inferior gear to what I wore ten or even fifteen years ago.
    I will say that today, if you were to grab guys at random at any fire scene, their gear would be in better shape than years ago. We also have all members who are wearing the same exact gear. Prior to the commissary system, pictures of this department at fire scenes would look like twenty different departments; very rag tag.

    They still allow us to wear whatever boots and gloves that we wish to, provided they carry that little NFPA label.

    Of course now, the city is broke and can't afford to replace or repair gear.

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    My department uses a combination system. The department issues TOG coat & pants plus a helmet. Everything else is up to the individual to obtain and maintain, however we do get an decent clothing allowance from which to do this.

    Personally, I like our system since I control the quality and quantity of the gear I have and am not stuck with potentially "low bid crap" or at the mercy of the City to replace it. Plus they just contractually agreed to a replacement schedule well ahead of the NFPA standard for the stuff they supply.

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    If the gear is required safety gear or equipment the employer must pay or reimburse for all minimum or required gear or equipment. Here at our department in N. California that means full tog(helmet, shroud, goggles, gloves, boots, suspenders, coat and pants) and full wildland gear(helmet, shroud, boots, pants, coat, gloves, goggles.) Sucks for the budget but nessesary to keep people from suing the department or making a case. But then again it's California so we have to do what California law says, we're the standard for the most part.

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    All PPE is purchased and supplied by the department. You wear what the department wants you to wear and no exceptions.

    The Department hires the members, trains them and maintains all PPE.

    It is traditional and also called uniformity!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Turnout gear is supllied by the Department. One can purchase their own gloves, lids and boots from their clothing allowance if they want to upgrade.

    Since I abhor "tactical tupperware" and rubber boots I purchased my own leather lids and boots.

    Gear replacement is every 5 years or sooner if there is damage or excessive wear and tear. The gear that gets replaced is put into "reserve" status to cover for cleaning and repairs.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 05-16-2010 at 10:32 PM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by 53fireman View Post
    I'm curious to see how many career departments make members purchase and maintain their own bunker gear (helmet, coat, pants, boots, hood, gloves). I've worked for the federal government and two large metro departments that all had a quartermaster system that handled everything. Anything required was given to us and replaced as necessary. My current department buys our first set of gear, but after that, we're on our own for the rest of our career.
    To me this sounds absolutley nuts. Is there a set standard for what type, color or design for the gear in an SOP/SOG.

    If not im sure there is a PPE Co. out there that would be willing to make you some nice neon hot pink bunker gear for the right price, buy those and wear them on the fire ground. Im sure the chief will be buying gear from now on, or atleast make an SOP/SOG regarding what gear can and can not be purchased, but by then your preaty pink bunkers will be good and be grandfathered in.

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