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    Default Silver Gear vs. Structure Gear

    Ok all, A Firefighter at my department is researching what is best for us at the Airport. Currently we wear silvers for Aircraft and Fuel Emergencies and Structural for all building Alarms and MVA calls. It has become very hard to keep 2 sets of gear on a rig and ready to use when assigned to the Engine or Ambulance. Crash Trucks must only have Silvers. NFPA leaves the decision up to the Chief, and FAR 139 says you must maintain a set of silvers for the Fuel Farms. Silvers are only rated for exterior attack and not interior attack. So, what do you wear at your Department and what is your opinion.

    Its a very heated topic at my Station.

    Thanks all

    Yours in Safety
    Last edited by Firemedic070; 10-06-2010 at 05:59 PM.
    Nathan Pennington
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    Check out this discussion over at the ARFFWG Forum. This is a topic that has been discussed quite a bit.

    http://www.arff.info/forums/showthre...ight=proximity

    I would say it would depend on the type of calls you are responsible for. Here we are ARFF only, structural is left to off airport units. A unit that responds to both, I would think you would want both sets of gear, or maybe sacrifice the silvers.

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    I think you answered your own question. You need both. You'll have to find a way to lug it around. Keep the structural stuff in gear bags?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    When I was in the USAF, we had both sets depending on the machine assigned. At our main station, ARFF kept silvers on the machine while the engine guys kept structural gear. Of course, we had the luxury of both crews responding to ARFF emergencies. Anything off the base only rescue and engine crews ran so it was pretty easy.

    I must say that I found the silvers to be horrible to wear. The head gear sucked. With a good knockdown using a bumper and roof turret, I don't know why you couldn't get away with just structural gear. Just my .02 worth.

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    I see all your points, There just aren' t big fuel fire in the US today. The advancement of Crash Truck Tech and use of Foam makes the industry safer. Also, Prox gear is only recommended for exterior firefighting not interior. Thats written on the manufacturers booklets. Maybe a supplier should incorporate structural with an aluminized iner linner for ARFF.

    Yet in Europe, they wear structure gear and have more mishaps than the US involving Aircraft. Wonder what their thinking is over there? Is their Structure gear any different?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemedic070 View Post
    I see all your points, There just aren' t big fuel fire in the US today. The advancement of Crash Truck Tech and use of Foam makes the industry safer. Also, Prox gear is only recommended for exterior firefighting not interior. Thats written on the manufacturers booklets. Maybe a supplier should incorporate structural with an aluminized iner linner for ARFF.

    Yet in Europe, they wear structure gear and have more mishaps than the US involving Aircraft. Wonder what their thinking is over there? Is their Structure gear any different?
    Too late on that idea. When I worked for the military they were piloting a program where each firefighter would be issued a structural ensemble that had a removable outer silver shell. When you were assigned CFR duty you had the silver shell on, when not you wore it as a structural set.

    I can tell you it was not popular where I worked and we switched to Morning Pride silvers shortly there after.
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    In my fire department when I first joined I was issued Globe turnout gear that was used at the airport in our coverage area which was classified as structural and proxmity gear. It was tan gear with triple trim on it. The reason we have it is because one of our members works at the airport. That may be something to look into.

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    when i was CFR we just had silvers for everything.

    when we ran mutual aid with base fire we just wore our silvers, and when our generals building burnt down in 07 we wore silvers for the entire interior attack. they wrere beat up afterwards and all of the knee patches had to be replaced, but they did their job well in spite of the manufactuers reccomendations.

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    I am 100% against proximity gear, especially for military firefighters. Nothing is less tactical than a silver suit reflecting in the sun. But I have plenty of objections to silvers beyond becoming an aiming point for the bad guys.

    We respond with multiple apparatus capable of flowing over 1000 gpm each from the turrets, yet we pay a premium for proximity gear so that we can get close to monster fuel fires with 100 gpm handlines? The only place you need to go with a handline is where the turrets don't reach-which is inside the aircraft, but proximity is not supposed to be used interior. WTF?

    I think our training events are negatively influencing our standards. Since it's "no fun" to put out a big fuel fire with a turret, we put on the silvers and walk into the pit. We then feel the heat of a fire that has not been knocked down by the turrets of our apparatus-our primary tool. We then get the impression that silvers are worth the trouble and expense. I find it ridiculous that the same fire service leaders that deem 1-2 man crews on crash trucks acceptable then require proximity gear for safety when operating outside the rig-as if you can operate safely alone anyway.

    I've been to fuel fires in structural gear and felt the heat. Yes, it was more than what you feel in silvers. That's why we have turrets, deluge guns, and aerial pipes.

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    My Chief is retired USMC Firefighter, he swears that silvers are the best, but never has used structural for a "real" fire. My Assistant Chief is USAF at Youngstown Ohio reserves ARFF and is in favor of the structural gear since they are switching to structure in the USAF.

    I just find it odd that only 7 people have silvers on, 4 on the ground, two in crash trucks and 1 in command while the additional help is coming from the city's structure department (32 firefighters) wear structural gear. They are supposed to help with fire attack and rescue, why arent they in silvers too?

    Some old timers need to attend some classes and realize the fire service is changing and just not booster lines and rubber coats anymore!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemedic070 View Post
    Some old timers need to attend some classes and realize the fire service is changing and just not booster lines and rubber coats anymore!
    Very true-the old bunker gear did not have the thermal protection of the current gear. I have my first silver coat, it is basically a corduroy jacket with the aluminized fabric over it. The aluminum covering did allow you to get a lot closer than the structural black rubber gear of the time. But the new proximity gear is basically structural gear with aluminized over it. The thermal barrier on a standard structural PBI coat is far more protective than the old ones used to be. Many of the old timers do not understand that at all.

    Oh-how about all the black rubber on your SCBA? The shield and shroud don't cover all of it. I remember being at pit fires where the air coming through my low pressure hose felt like it was burning my throat.

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    I prefer Structural gear and our replacements will be structural (they purchased silvers prior to my arrival here). The silvers wear out too easy, are expensive and offer no real value. I think they are no better or worse than regular structural gear IMHO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post
    Very true-the old bunker gear did not have the thermal protection of the current gear. I have my first silver coat, it is basically a corduroy jacket with the aluminized fabric over it. The aluminum covering did allow you to get a lot closer than the structural black rubber gear of the time. But the new proximity gear is basically structural gear with aluminized over it. The thermal barrier on a standard structural PBI coat is far more protective than the old ones used to be. Many of the old timers do not understand that at all.

    Oh-how about all the black rubber on your SCBA? The shield and shroud don't cover all of it. I remember being at pit fires where the air coming through my low pressure hose felt like it was burning my throat.

    new structural gear might be a good deal better at dealing with the heat, but theres still no way in hell i'd want to fight a fuel fire for an extended period of time in it. the silvers dont absorb water like regular structural gear does and stay A LOT cooler and having to be that close to the fire i'd prefer the silvers personally...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebmxnc View Post
    new structural gear might be a good deal better at dealing with the heat, but theres still no way in hell i'd want to fight a fuel fire for an extended period of time in it. the silvers dont absorb water like regular structural gear does and stay A LOT cooler and having to be that close to the fire i'd prefer the silvers personally...
    Brother, you're missing the point. I agree with you that prox does a great job of reflecting heat and keeping us dry. HOWEVER-a fuel fire big enough to put out that kind of heat needs to be knocked down with turrets or deluge sets. Bunker gear needs to get you past spot fires that the turrets can't reach. If it is too hot to be where you are in structural bunker gear for 5 minutes, then there are no survivable victims and the fire needs to get hit with a master stream. You are not going to drag a pilot in a flightsuit through a ball of fire and and come out like Kurt Russel carrying the kid in Backdraft.

    Note that the people who do large scale flammable liquid firefighting, like Williams Fire and Hazard Control, wear nomex jumpsuits, not silvers. They use large caliber streams to do the work from a distance. If it is too hot for bunker gear, stay in the truck or behind it until the fire is knocked down and manageable with handlines.
    Last edited by gunnyv; 12-10-2010 at 04:52 PM. Reason: grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv View Post
    Brother, you're missing the point. I agree with you that prox does a great job of reflecting heat and keeping us dry. HOWEVER-a fuel fire big enough to put out that kind of heat needs to be knocked down with turrets or deluge sets. Bunker gear needs to get you past spot fires that the turrets can't reach. If it is too hot to be where you are in structural bunker gear for 5 minutes, then there are no survivable victims and the fire needs to get hit with a master stream. You are not going to drag a pilot in a flightsuit through a ball of fire and and come out like Kurt Russel carrying the kid in Backdraft.

    Note that the people who do large scale flammable liquid firefighting, like Williams Fire and Hazard Control, wear nomex jumpsuits, not silvers. They use large caliber streams to do the work from a distance. If it is too hot for bunker gear, stay in the truck or behind it until the fire is knocked down and manageable with handlines.
    oh i get you gunny, and i agree we "SHOULDNT" be fighting anything that large with 60gpm handlines, but when the fuel farm got hit at (i believe) al asad when mwss 271 was there in 05 they were hitting it with the turrets AND sending the handline men in to knock it back a bit and it burned for like 24 hours. even though its a rare case, i dont see the military (or at least the Corps) doing away with silvers permanently.

    i was a p19 and p26 driver for 3 years of my enlistment so i never got dressed anyways ;p

    in my opinion any department can get away with just having silvers. they work jsut fine for the rare chance a building burns down on the airfield, and i'd rather have the silvers for fuel fires or crashes which are much more likely (at least at a military airfield)

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    al asad when mwss 271 was there in 05 they were hitting it with the turrets AND sending the handline men in to knock it back a bit and it burned for like 24 hours
    Yeah but that one also had other issues going for it which made it to go that long--shortage of foam, expeditionary environment and bad tactics (not by you guys so much as much as by the contractors). I won't get into particulars but the Gunny is right--no need to send in handlines--there is nothing to gain and plenty to lose. You would have done just as well with regular 'ole turnout gear, foam and large caliber hose lines.
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    Brothers,

    Its seem there is a limited number of those who prefer silvers over structural gear. I just recieved my new set of silvers in which the instruction booklet clearly states, "Not intended for interior Firefighting". There is a reason it is call "Proximity Gear" NFPA mandates that one set of silvers is maintained for the fuel farms in case of fire. That is the only reson I see silver being needed. I'm sure any of the Oil Company Firefighter will attest to this.
    If the Crash Truck operators due what they are taught and knock down the bulk of a fire so the rescue crew can enter. You cant just stand outside and change your gear for a different operation. You need a set of gear that can do both and that is Structural Gear at this time.
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    I'm not sure where you're seeing it as an NFPA mandate to provide one set of silvers for the fuel farm- Unless that's just what someone told you and that was their only reason... my understanding is that it's left up to the AHJ to make the determination of the requirement based on a hazard analysis. Any other basis of the need is determined by the primary responsibility of the service or personnel.

    If there IS actual NFPA legislation, please point it out as I work at both a fuel storage facility and a CAT 6 Aerodrome and provide both services as well.

    I'm with Gunny and judging by the ammendments being suggested to 1851 and 1500- and those suggestions I've read involve the re-wording of these different standards to be more specific about how the job is changing and, as gunny points out, a lot of the REALLY big stuff is being dealt with at standoff ranges now by bigger advanced equipment. I've also read NFPA 30 (Fuel storage) and 24 (private systems just for kicks)... I just don't see it put in black and white except as required by the AHJ or a hazard assessment.

    We've long said that the disadvantage of gear that protects us so well is that it gets us into situations that we might not be able to get out of. It causes us to get too deep into trouble... If we need proximity gear to fight the fires we're fighting, we're missing a step with bigger equipment. That heat is a warning shot- not a challenge... and it should be addressed with better strategy, tactics and bigger resources. And if none of those are already in place... well- no offense but you've already got bigger things to worry about than picking between structural gear and proximity.
    Ian "Eno" McLeod

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    With the experience i have with silvers i hate them, once they are heat saturated it takes longer for them to cool off in my opinion. I know that Charlotte Fire Dept. uses structural gear. The only thing worse than the silvers is those ARFF boots.

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    I agree the boots are the most uncomfortable boots I've ever worn. Globe has come out with an ARFF boot made of Leather that has all the protection of the rubber but 10xs more comfortable. Cost alot. I'm hoping that Globe at FDIC this year will have an set to try on.
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    Cool Our Policy.....

    We primarily protect light/medium framed rotary aircraft, but we use primarily Structure Gear. At Station 3, which protects Military and Civilian Aircraft we do have the Proximity Suits issued to us but they stay in a closet unless some Heavy Cargo Planes come-in then we pull them out and set them by the ARFF and Water Tender. Our Crash Stations provide both services so the Structure Gear works best for our Operations.

    I do agree, once the get the ARFF Boots on, it's like walking on pillows. Have fun getting them off though. When I first got hired at my current Career Department, I wore ARFF Boots with Structure Gear. I almost cried when they had me switch back to Turnout Boots. LOL.

    Gunny V, you do make some very valid points especially with the Manpower issue. I never understood how an ARFF with either (1) or (2) personnel is expected to be able to perform everything needed for an Aircraft Rescue. I know that we cover multiple Units, but (1) person (to bring the number up to 3) more per Unit would make more sense to me. It will be interesting to see if anybody challenges the manpower using the "2 In, 2 Out" Regulation. Just a thought.....

    Here's another thought, ever notice how the DOD training disks show ARFF/AF FFs wearing Proximity Gear while responding to a simulated FS which would require an Interior Attack, yet the Manufacturer says the gear is not intended for that use?
    Last edited by mikeyboy; 12-31-2010 at 05:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemedic070 View Post
    I agree the boots are the most uncomfortable boots I've ever worn. Globe has come out with an ARFF boot made of Leather that has all the protection of the rubber but 10xs more comfortable. Cost alot. I'm hoping that Globe at FDIC this year will have an set to try on.
    I am going to have to investigate that because I hate wearing my ARFF boots. Running the tapes after a barrier engagement really sucks in them.

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    As an index E dept we switched to all structual gear about 6 years ago. As has already been stated the need for prox gear is pretty nill these days. If you have a large fuel fire, you should be in the crash truck.

    And after reading the current studies out there we are now switching over to leather boots as well.

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