I am seeking information from departments which require or prohibit the wearing of bunkers and boots by engineers while driving. My main concern is that my department uses rubber boots and has mostly standard transmissions in our trucks. It is tough to use the clutch properly. Even with the automatic transmissions, it is easy to get the big boots on both the brake and accelerator at the same time.
[This message has been edited by DD (edited November 14, 1999).]
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11-14-1999, 10:45 PM #1DDFirehouse.com Guest
Engineers driving while wearing bunkers?
11-14-1999, 11:19 PM #2S. CookFirehouse.com Guest
We don't require or prohibit but...
We let the driver decide. If he/she is comfortable, the whole crew and the public is safer. If they choose not to wear their bunkers while driving, they still have to take them.
11-14-1999, 11:24 PM #3Capt LeeFirehouse.com Guest
Our standard SOP is for the engineer to wear his bunker pants enroute then once on scene dress out the rest of the way, minus scba, as part of the 2 in 2 out. This way he's already dressed and just grabs his scba from the side comparment if needed. So far its worked well.
After reading the other posts I will add that all our rigs are automatics, and yes seatbelts are required. Sounds like the most trouble/ concern is with the standards.
[This message has been edited by Capt Lee (edited November 25, 1999).]
11-15-1999, 12:58 PM #4Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
I've always hated driving with bunkers on. The whole thing doesn't feel right, it's harder to find the pedals and to get a feel for the catch point on the clutch. Currently, my company requires engineers to be geared on the scene, but leaves the driving with gear issue up to the individual engineer. We do, however, recognize the value of getting people in gear before leaving the station, and some of us (myself included) have been trying to teach ourselves to drive safely in bunkers.
So far, Ive found that getting the feel for the pedal placement in the automatics isn't hard if you put your mind to it. As easy as that turned out to be is as hard as it's been to get used to the sticks. In fact, I've found that it's impossible to drive the '72 Mack with bunkers on unless I empty both my side bunker pockets. Even then, I can't take my foot completely off the clutch...there just isn't enough room between the clutch pedal and the steering wheel or the steering wheel and the door. This isn't comfortable or safe, really. If this ever becomes an SOP, that will be the last time I drive that rig.
11-15-1999, 01:21 PM #5ChapCaptFirehouse.com Guest
Our policy is no driving in bunker boots. You may drive in coat or pants. Personally I find in uncomfortable to drive in my bunker coat. (We only have one standard transmission vehicle) The reason for the policy is that the powers that be feel it is safer to drive in regular shoes, sneakers, whatever than in the big clunky bunker boots. Drivers are required to bring gear with them. In our newest truck we actually had a compartment build specifically for the driver to stowe his gear.
11-15-1999, 03:25 PM #6DED1645Firehouse.com Guest
Personally I agree w/ some of the replies that it is more comfortable and you do have a better feel for the pedals w/o heavy boots on, but it also is a dept's SOP that everyone must wear their gear. One of the main reasons being that our dept. had a apparatus overturn and if everyone was wearing gear some of the injuries wouldn't have been as severe. I got 68 stitches in my back from shattering glass and other objects. If I was wearing my gear I would of most likely just got a few bumps and bruses.
Presently Lindenwold,NJ(I'm not a member of any of this District's dept's.)
11-15-1999, 04:50 PM #7e33Firehouse.com Guest
I usually only wear my pants and boots (leather type) because I like the unrestricted feeling of no coat. I also have driven in street clothes in a few instances. In some cases, the only thing I would make mandatory is a helmet and gloves of some type. I have had the "two pedal" experience before and it is scary. It also makes you look incompetent and foolish. The same with the clutch..i can drive a standard trans pretty well, but put me in fire boots and it all goes to poop. Shouldnt the driver be as functional as possible..to me that means no gear to restrict movement. And im not really concerned with any standards which may exist..I am looking at it from a practical standpoint. Oh yeah..seatbelts on too!
[This message has been edited by e33 (edited March 20, 2000).]
11-19-1999, 04:45 AM #8Firstin88Firehouse.com Guest
I agree that the Engineer must be comfortable/functional, but you still need to have your gear on when at the scene. Not only for the 2 in 2 out rule, but for the safety of the Engineer. If a line were to burst or some other accident were to occur, OSHA would have a field day with your department on why you were not fully protected.
With that said, most newer apparatus have the pedals set-up for operating with your bunker pants and boots on. As well as all newer apparatus have auto tranny's now, so it makes it easier.
I pose another question to you then, what about the Engineer driving with his/her helmet on?
Thanks e33 for mentioning the seatbelts, they are far to often not used.
Stay safe out there!
11-19-1999, 08:35 AM #9Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
Actually, e33, you won't draw fire from me on this...as long as the engineer is going to be just that and only that for the duration of the call, he/she really doesn't need the gear most of the time. The main reason we've been moving toward gearing the engineers (I should correct my earlier post...our SOGs actually say that the engineer must have gear at the scene and be wearing at least the helmet...the rest is currently an informal "recommendation" from the Deputy Chief) is because we've been finding that we're shuffling positions a lot more than we used to.
For us, it used to be that the engineers were usually older guys who weren't likely to be doing any firefighting anyway, at least on any particular call when they drove. Now, we tend to have front line crew/officers driving initially, with some of the older engineers showing up at the scene when there is a working fire. That allows those front-line people to be relieved from the panel to fight fire soon after arrival, making it more important that they are geared earlier. Hence, our little experiment.
I still hate driving in bunkers, but I'll keep trying to get better at it if it makes operations a little more effective in some way.
11-20-1999, 10:19 AM #10rocketboy192Firehouse.com Guest
Our department does not have an SOG about this issue. It is left up to the individual driver/engineer's preference. Our fire chief wants ALL personnel on a fireground to be dressed in PPE on the fire scene so if the driver/engineer does not dress at the station, he is supposed to dress at the scene (which is an entirely different topic because few do it). I personally do not have a problem driving with my binker pants on. Keep in mind, all of out apparatus, including spares, are Pierce custom cabs (Dash & Saber) and all have automatic transmissions so room in the cab in not an issue. I can identify with everyone on the standard transmission issue though because several of our spares used to have standard transmissions. Coupled with the fact that they had Ford cabs and chassis made space a precious commodity. I usually do NOT where my bunker pants during the day. The three driver/engineers at my station have unofficially made space in a compartment (the rear driver's side) for our turnouts, a halligan bar, a bolt cutter, our issued SCBA facemask, and an SCBA. During the day, my stuff stays in there but after 4PM (when we are allowed to change into shorts, t-shirts, etc.) I usually respond in my bunker pants because they are so quick to don. At night I always wear my bunker pants. I feel that wearing my bunker pants keeps me safer and allows me to be a bit more ready to act in the capacity of a RIT team or assist in any other emergency that may arise.
Ronald J. Tocci, II
Engine 1 C
IAFF Local 3704
11-21-1999, 10:41 PM #11NY FIRE WATCHFirehouse.com Guest
I personally wear bunkers when I drive. I understand everyone's problem with wearing them. Here is a suggestion, buy leather boots. This has made driving much easier. In my department, sometimes the driver maybe asked to help stretch a line in a possibly dangerous area. Also, when operating on roadways, the extra reflective clothing is much safer that a duty uniform.
11-21-1999, 11:18 PM #12RVFDCaptFirehouse.com Guest
My dept. has a SOP that all firemen should be in turnouts when leaving the station but, I think that it must be left up to the chief and apparatus operator as to whether or not bunkers are worn when driving. Alot of good points have been mentioned here but the most critical point is the safety factor. It must be determined that the apparatus can be operated safely and properly by the apparatus driver at all times. Therefore, it may need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Once on scene, I think engineers should be dressed in bunker pants, boots, gloves and helmet. Just in case they may need to do some type of emergency rescue, etc.
11-22-1999, 09:03 PM #13DDFirehouse.com Guest
Thanks to all for the replies!
11-23-1999, 12:33 PM #14Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
Update on my driving with bunkers experiment...tried to drive the (standard transmission) quint back from a call with bunkers still on on Sunday afternoon. Got my left leg pocket hung up on the door handle at one point and couldn't get on the clutch. Nearly hit two parked cars and almost blew a stop sign, but I got the whole thing under control before anything bad actually happened.
End of experiment. I don't need two near misses to recognize a bad idea.
11-29-1999, 12:18 PM #15pyroknightFirehouse.com Guest
When you're the only one on the truck, you better be dressed for the occasion when you get there! Massive understaffing has resulted in our department requiring all firefighters to don PPE prior to departing the station. My big *** couldn't possibly wear a helmet and drive. I'd break my neck the first bump I hit. I need all the headroom I can get. I have big ole size 13 feet and I have very little difficulty in operating an apparatus. We do have one standard tranny tender which I have also managed to operate safely lights and siren with gear on. A large portion of it is just familiarity.
Our engineers are fully bunkered with SCBA at the pump panel, but if they really NEED that crap, they parked in the WRONG DAMN SPOT!
Stay belted, stay safe, tell your family you love 'em.
12-01-1999, 08:22 AM #16Firstin88Firehouse.com Guest
The reason I asked about the helmet is, we have one engineer that always wears his helmet while driving. He is a very large guy and just fits in the truck to begin with. He gets kidded all the time from us and our surrounding departments.
Stay Safe and God Bless
12-01-1999, 11:43 AM #17INDY FIREFirehouse.com Guest
In Indy it's up to the Engineers if they wear thier Bunker Pants or not. Some do, and some don't.
12-04-1999, 10:19 PM #18Dwight ConradFirehouse.com Guest
I have to agree with e33. I don't drive with my bunkers on. I do take them with me and don them after I've got my pump going and lines charged. I drive a single axle, manual trans delivery truck six days a week, and I know what it's like to use a clutch with cover-alls on in the winter. So, no way on bunkers in a engine. The engine we have at my station is a Young, and it's virtually impossible to put your foot on the clutch with a boot.
12-05-1999, 02:17 PM #19SBrooksFirehouse.com Guest
No departmental requirements.
If I'm wearing uniform pants and steeltoed boots i'll wear those on bells calls, etc. as well as MVAs. We're not required to wear turnout pants on MVAs.
If it sounds like a fire...I try to put on my pants, and perhaps coat before we leave the station. We operate a truck and a squad, and the drivers take an active role on teh fireground--turnouts are not optional.
If it's night, I wear them. (unless it's unbearably hot and humid, I might just put on uniform pants then)
We only have automatic transmiisions, and i've purchased a set of pull on leather boots. I actually have more trouble with wearing the coat than the pants.
12-11-1999, 10:41 AM #20TYSONFirehouse.com Guest
On our Ladder Company, we wear all of our gear on runs. We are broken up into 2 teams. The officer and firefighter go inside, the driver and tillerman work the outside. We may have to go in-service quickly, so the driver and tillerman being geared up my save some needed time.
P.S. most ffrs. in our ladder company wear some type of leather turn-out boot. They are alot easier to drive with.
[This message has been edited by TYSON (edited December 11, 1999).]
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