Turnout gear problem
I'm hoping some of you may be able to give me guidance with this problem: I've been a junior for about 2 years. Juniors have recieved older turnout gear that is "questionable" for structural firefighting (circa 1990). For juniors, this is no problem because they can't enter an IDLH atmosphere. But I've recently turned 18 and became a probie. At this point I was informed that I am too tall to fit into the stock gear that they have (I'm 6-4), and that they only order gear once a year and its done in november/december, and its decided who gets it by seniority. So he basicly told me I'm "SOL". My concern is that in about 2 months I'll be FF II and on the line. I'm worried about using this old gear in a structure fire. Other than its obvious wear and tear, should it still be NFPA certified? Do I have a valid argument for special ordering gear for me? Or should I not worry because the gear should still be good? I'm open to suggestions.
I'm not sure where you're from, but there are probably some kind of state regulation regarding what conditions would pass safety muster. The gear also achieves NFPA certification generally only when worn as a properly fitting ensemble. For instance, you're not compliant if you've gat a 3 inch gap between the top of your bunker pants and the bottom of you coat. Other things that will get the gear tossed until repaired has to do with the vapor barrier. Many of the rubber type barriers break down and separate from the liner near seams and under the arms on the coat, inthe crotch and the backs of the knees on the pants. That will allow you to get steam burns if not intact.
The shell should be intact as well, and repaired if torn. I would contact the manufacturer of the gear to get a list of the requirements for NFPA certification and for your state. Most will have that on hand or at least tell you where you can get it.
If your gear doesn't fit properly, I would say you've got an argument to get new gear. You can't "repair" size. On the other hand they may be able to continue to restrict your activity on a fireground to an appropriate level until you get gear.
All in all, it's impossible to say your gear is safe or unsafe without inspecting it. The bottom line is do you mind getting burned? If so, I wouldn't use the gear for interior work until someone neutral looks at the gear if you have concerns.
If you are going to be certified to Firefighter II level, that means you will be interior certified. Ask your chief if he is willing to guarantee the integrity of your present turnouts for use in IDLH environments and your safety in writing... you may get newer gear quicker than you think!
I have always wondered about the mentality of giving gear by seniority. Most senior firefighters are apparatus operators...they spend most of their time at the pump panel or on the turntable of the aerial.
I have seen some gear that still looks brand new, yet gets replaced because the guy has 20+ years on the job while the jakes on the line have gear that is singed and patched.... go figure :rolleyes:
Here are 2 companies that I have recently used for our Department. They both specialize in cleaning, inspection and repair of turnouts. They can lengthen the outer shell and liner in pants, I can't recall if they offer they same service for coats or not. They both offer a freebie to try their services -- limit 1 per Department. Visit their web sites and request their free trial offer. Also ask them to send you a price list for their cleaning and repair services.
Solutions Safety Services, Inc. http://www.solutionssafety.com/ They will clean and inspect 1 set of turnouts (limit 1 per Department) for free. If they find any repairs that are needed, they will give you a cost estimate before proceeding with the repairs. I have found them to have a good price for general repairs such as patches, seam stitching, hardware and trim replacement.
Gloves, Inc. http://www.glovesinc.com/fire.html They will clean and repair 1 pair of pants (limit 1 per Department) for free. I have found them to have a good price if you have a moisture barrier / thermal liner repair need.
I know there are other companies that do this work also and probably some others that offer the initial freebie for trying them out. These are just 2 companies that I have had experience with through our Department. I do not own an interest in them or work for them and neither do any of my friends or relatives.
I would be careful going after the chief right away. You could bring the matter up to your safety officer and have him/her look at your gear. If it is a safety issue, then hopefully they will bring it up to the chief.
Maybe I am wrong in thinking this but to become FFII don't you have to have some interior training in order to recieve that certification? Do you go to any live burns or flashover training? Ok I will stop sounding like a ***** for a minute and it is hard for companies to buy gear for someone your age because they know that some young kids do not stay around. I for one am off at college and only respond when I am home on break. Your size also has something to do with it because if you were to leave your gear would not fit most FF's. Your best bet to getting the problem solved is to not go after the chief. Always remember your chain of command because you don't want people to think that you have gone over them. Start with a safety officer or Lt. I do not know how your company works but where I am from in NY the Capt. is incharge of all firematic equipment in the fire house. I wish you well and am glad to see that there are more and more kids as didicated as you are to the fire service.
Stay safe all my fellow Brothers' and Sisters'
youre right, there is burn room training. my instructors are also concerned about my turnout gear. they have already rejected the first set i had. it took about a month to find another pair of old stuff that was in alittle better shape. the instructors are letting slide because they know that the class is important to me and that i will not be getting better gear. the sad thing in all this is that the person in charge of the gear is a deputy chief, the chief of department is the next higher up. right now, im trying to look up NFPA 1971 so i can prove the gear is no longer servicable. but i can't find more than just a blurb about it on the internet, and i dont have access to the books in print form. thanks for all your help and suggestions.
you may want to investigate your options, look at you departments policies on safety, Many departments are required to provide adeqate and proper safety equipment. You could have your instructors express thier concern about your gear in some way. If it were me, I would start at the bottom of the chain of command, but don't have attitude about it. Try asking your Lt. or whoever for advice on how to resolve the problem, listen to their feedback and ask them to assist you through the process. Many times if you can get a highly respected member to see your point, and stand behind you, you may find things will happen sooner. Or there's always the option where you can refuse to enter certain types of enviornments based on concerns of personal safety. There's many ways you can play this game cause it involves the dreaded "SAFETY" But please remember, take things one step at a time, be patient and use the right approach. Good things come to those who wait, and your department will maintain respect for you not throwing attitude at them. You've already proved (sp?) that you want to be there, and want to be good at what you do, so now's the time to prove to them that you're also understanding to thier situation and that you can handle yourself responsibly. Always use tact, and you'll go far. Good luck.
After training, bunker gear might well be the single most important safety tool available.
Any department that would have me hold off until I "fit the suit" or ask that I respond with inferior safety gear would have me question my relationship with that department.
If they are trying to skimp on turnout gear, what else are they skimping on? You have every right to ask the department to verify your current gear is up to current standards and if not, ask that they supply you with gera that is.
I am well aware of budget issues and your gear may well not fall in this years budget. If so, I am sure they can have you lined up for another fireground duty that does not require entry.
Do volunteer departments make their members pay for gear?
AS long as the gear has a NFPA Compliant Lable for NFPA 1971 for the edition of the standard that was in effect when it was purchased, it is still considered compliant unless inspected by a 3rd party source and declared non servicible.... NFPA 1851
The new version of NFPA 1971 specifically addressed proper fit. If the gear does not fit you are subject to possible compression/steam burns or readiant burns to unprotected areas.
Dont just tell the Chief your gear does not fit. Show him...put it on. Then...if he still persists, tell him you want it in writing thate he will not give you gear because he says yours fits ok and that he is ordering you to use it. Then hand it to your instructor.
I suggest you look for another department to volunteer at. One that has a bit more concern for your safety.
Using the agencies listed in one of the other posts here will get your gear inspected and either re-certified or rejected. It will cost you...but may be worth the expense.
Where are you from anyway?