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Thread: Masking up: In the rig or on the scene?

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    Default Masking up: In the rig or on the scene?

    This is always a topic of debate around the kitchen table at my firehouse. Do we mask up in the rig while enroute to a fire, or wait until we are on the scene? Being a new guy, I prefer to mask up on scene. I feel that masking up on the scene helps limit tunnel vision (which I still get being a new guy) and increases situational awareness prior to making entry into the structure.

    What are your thoughts?

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    Masking up in the rig only invites trouble, which I witnessed first hand when I watched a guy wearing his mask get off a rig and step right into a patch of ice, fall and break his arm on the curb.

    Get off the rig with your mask at the ready. Do your own size up. Once had a company level officer (whom everyone loved, trusted and deeply respected) say "Kid, do your own size up, dont rely on me and me alone to give you the picture. And if you see anything that concerns you, you tell me!" Having the mask on when exiting the rig does lead to tunnelvision.

    Anyone that has been doing this for more than a few years should be proficient enough to put their mask on and be breathing air at the front door in just a few seconds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Masking up in the rig only invites trouble, which I witnessed first hand when I watched a guy wearing his mask get off a rig and step right into a patch of ice, fall and break his arm on the curb.

    Get off the rig with your mask at the ready. Do your own size up. Once had a company level officer (whom everyone loved, trusted and deeply respected) say "Kid, do your own size up, dont rely on me and me alone to give you the picture. And if you see anything that concerns you, you tell me!" Having the mask on when exiting the rig does lead to tunnelvision.

    Anyone that has been doing this for more than a few years should be proficient enough to put their mask on and be breathing air at the front door in just a few seconds.
    Exactly what he said. Biggest thing I was taught is that you mask up in the truck, you get tunnel vision and run right to the door without doing your own size up. What if your company officer missed that ONE thing that you notice? Take the extra time and mask up when you're ready to make entry.
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    Another vote for "wait." I had this blathering idiot of a captain when I was young who insisted on masking up in the rig, sometimes before I even pulled the rig out of the station. He'd be screaming orders about how fast to drive, what direction to go, what hydrant he wanted taken, and what he wanted done once we got there. Of course I couldn't understand a word of it because it just sounded like muffled garbling behind his mask. He finally got the hint when he hung up his hose one day on the window crank while trying to exit the rig and just about decapitated himself.
    Last edited by Chief_Roy; 04-18-2012 at 05:28 PM.

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    The three previous commenters have said it all..

    Chief_Roy.. I think every department has someone just like the person you described!
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    I hammer home to my students in Entry Level Firefighter an in FF1 that nothing else matters if you can't get you PPE and SCBA on properly. I drill them every week in class on that skill.

    To the direct question here. Mask off til entering the haqzrd zone. there is smply no reason to have your vision obscurred while doing other fireground tasks on top of the fogging that almost certainly will occur. Go just to the point of entering the hazard zone and THEN don your facepiece. You should easily be able to do that in around 15 to 30 seconds.
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    I will say on the flip side, in the military, I went through a lot of chemical warfare training and got used to having a gas mask on for hours at a time and performing lots of tasks, including firing a weapon at targets on ranges. Masking up CAN be done on the truck provided you are adept at scanning the scene on arrival.
    Having said that, it's something I'd rarely do, unless there's plenty of light at the scene, (daylight) and a confirmed working fire with possible rescue. It makes thing a bit harder, but it can be done if needed (which should be rarely) Man's gotta know his limitations.

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    Thanks to the guy who asked this question and all the guys that responded. I honestly had never thought of it like that. I most of the time masked up while on the engine and hurried and got to work. As I sit back and think about it I, in some ways did get tunnel vision whenever I did that. There had been times where I did wait to get on the scene but it wasn't because I was going to do a thorough size up. As a rookie I watched all the vets put their stuff on on the way so I just followed suit because I thought that was the way to do it. Thanks again, I just learned something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief_Roy View Post
    He finally got the hint when he hung up his hose one day on the window crank while trying to exit the rig and just about decapitated himself.
    I hate getting my hose hung up on the window crank.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    I hate getting my hose hung up on the window crank.
    That occurred on what must have been a 75 Mack. I doubt there's much danger of it these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief_Roy View Post
    That occurred on what must have been a 75 Mack. I doubt there's much danger of it these days.
    In a related story, I took my older daughter to the firehouse with a friend when they were in kindergarten. I put them in the cab of one engine and Brianna looked at the window crank and said, "What's that?"

    Man, I'm old.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng25Fireman View Post
    Thanks to the guy who asked this question and all the guys that responded. I honestly had never thought of it like that. I most of the time masked up while on the engine and hurried and got to work. As I sit back and think about it I, in some ways did get tunnel vision whenever I did that. There had been times where I did wait to get on the scene but it wasn't because I was going to do a thorough size up. As a rookie I watched all the vets put their stuff on on the way so I just followed suit because I thought that was the way to do it. Thanks again, I just learned something.
    Glad I could stir up some conversation that made you think!

    And thank you to everyone who weighed in. I agree, you should be able to mask up in under 20 seconds at the front door.
    Last edited by 78Ted13; 04-19-2012 at 11:38 AM.

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    No reason to have your face piece until you are about to enter smoke. Doesn't matter if you can or can't walk around doing things with your face piece on, its unnecessary. What's the point of having my face piece on while making a hydrant or throwing ladders? It's just stupid, even if there are people trapped there is no reason to put it on in the truck. Do you really think you are just going to go flying off the rig into the house? Maybe the couple seconds you take to put your face piece on is a good chance to take a breath and slow down.

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    On the scene...more often than not, unless the fire's on the first floor, not until you're in the building generally the floor below.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 78Ted13 View Post
    This is always a topic of debate around the kitchen table at my firehouse. Do we mask up in the rig while enroute to a fire, or wait until we are on the scene? Being a new guy, I prefer to mask up on scene. I feel that masking up on the scene helps limit tunnel vision (which I still get being a new guy) and increases situational awareness prior to making entry into the structure.

    What are your thoughts?
    Never.

    This has been hashed out in serval threads. See this one.....



    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/t114765/ (Face Piece or no Face piece?? That is the question...)
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    No matter how many threads with this topic, my response remains the same.

    Wait until you need it.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    [QUOTE=EastKyFF, Man, I'm old.[/QUOTE]

    Yes you are.

    Concerning donning facemask while inroute. Remember this things which where stupid prior to joining the fire service still are.

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    The ability to see and hear everything around you always trumps the 15 seconds it should take to put on your mask.

    I maintain this for attack teams as well as rapid intervention teams.

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    As others have said, wait until you need it. It helps you look around and take a look at the big picture.

    Also, your mask doesn't fog up while you are doing stuff.

    We used to pound that into everyone's head long ago to be ready to go when you exit the truck, including wearing your mask but not on air. Didn't really think twice about it until I became an officer and wanted to look around the place myself. I saw guys with masks on fogging up as they are trying to get tools, pull hose, etc. Then when the weather was bad, theses guys are trying to look down to get out of the truck without falling on their arse. Now the rule is have the air on and ready to go so all you have to do is put the mask on and take a breath.
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    Masking up in the truck before you make the scene, is like putting a head gasket on before you go out on a date.

    Wait until you need it!!!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Hey guys,

    Been reading this post and the similar forum from 2010. While I have to say that while en route our dept encourages us to turn the bottle on and mask up but not go on air, after reading here and now being in an officer position , I think I'm inclined to propose some changes to our SOPs. Thanks for the great advice.

    Question though - what do you do with your mask while exiting the vehicle? Is it hanging at your side clipped to the regulator? Is it hanging from your coat? Did you leave it in the jump seat!?!

    ~Skojo

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    No reason to have your face piece until you are about to enter smoke. Doesn't matter if you can or can't walk around doing things with your face piece on, its unnecessary. What's the point of having my face piece on while making a hydrant or throwing ladders? It's just stupid, even if there are people trapped there is no reason to put it on in the truck. Do you really think you are just going to go flying off the rig into the house? Maybe the couple seconds you take to put your face piece on is a good chance to take a breath and slow down.
    I don't think anyone is talking about hitting a hydrant or throwing ladders with a mask on. I think the idea is going directly into the fire building immediately off of the truck.

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    I try to stress while teaching to mask up at the door.

    I work with quite a few people who believe masking up in the rig... and as soon as possible. Usually, even if I wait until we get on scene to mask up, the whole crew is usually ready around the same time.

    The only time I will mask up on the rig is if we are headed to a fire with confirmed entrapment and are going to be search. I'd prefer not to mask up that early, but since we don't have to pull a line, if I waited to mask up like I normally do at the door, everyone would be way ahead of me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skojo View Post
    Hey guys,

    Been reading this post and the similar forum from 2010. While I have to say that while en route our dept encourages us to turn the bottle on and mask up but not go on air, after reading here and now being in an officer position , I think I'm inclined to propose some changes to our SOPs. Thanks for the great advice.

    Question though - what do you do with your mask while exiting the vehicle? Is it hanging at your side clipped to the regulator? Is it hanging from your coat? Did you leave it in the jump seat!?!

    ~Skojo
    My mask is always on my regulator. I could imagine the embarrassment at the front door when you go to mask up...only to realize your mask is back on the rig!

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