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Thread: PPE of old

  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Default PPE of old

    I am working on a side project.

    I am trying to put together a couple of displays for our VFD to set up in the training/community room. It gets used for all sorts of community things and I thought it would be neat to give the folks something to look at.

    Here is what I have in mind.

    We have a lot of old gear around, I dont think anything has ever been thrown away.

    I want to get some full sized full body maniquins and outfit them with PPE from the 70s era, the 80s, and maybe even our current gear if we have some to spare.

    My only trouble is that I wasnt around for the 70s, or the 80s for that matter. I want to make sure they are accurate, so I am just asking for some input.

    Our 70s era gear was yellow rubberized long coats, I believe 3/4 boots, old school long brim tactical tupperware (fiber glass I think), Scott II airpaks, and red ball orange ruber gloves, at least I think thats what they were called. This stuff is just scary, most of it seems like it would melt in high radiant heat, and I am very glad that we have moved on. What else was common gear for this era? Wack Pack for the helmet? They are not traditional style, so I dont now if that approach was used.

    The 80s brought Black Morning Pride turnouts, hook closesure, MSA brigade helmets, a mix of Scott II Airpaks and MSA Ultralite 2s, and such. Most everything here is pretty much the same as it is now, just new materials and next generation stuff. We have a set of PPE that had been realy cooked multiple times, lots of discoloration, melted reflective stripes, holes burnt in the leg cuffs. Should look realy nice with a beat up old SCOTT airpack 2 on it.

    I guess what I am asking is if you have any ideas to make the display more complete and more interesting.

    I do have a big box full of old magazines (Mostly Fire Chief) and catelogs. I was thinking of putting some catelogs pages up that show the cost of what that old gear was when it was new and then compare it to what modern gear costs. Might make the donations grow a bit! If nothing else it will show that the cost of fire service gear has increase much faster then budget size.

    Any thougts and comments are welcome.

    For the guys that were around for these changes, Just how much has PPE improved. How did the rubber coats compare to the 80s, 90s, and now modern gear? What was it like useing the 70s era stuff, what were your first impressions when you moved on to the 80s stuff.


    Thanks
    Last edited by SamsonFCDES; 11-12-2003 at 12:56 PM.
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    MembersZone Subscriber AFD368's Avatar
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    I don't think the Whack-Packs were used that much in the 70's. but in the 60's and 70's, many departments were still using the 6 volt (large square battery),metal cased hand lights. Of course not being rechargeable you had to maintain a supply of batteries.
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
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    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
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  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Good call, I totaly forgot about flashlights.

    I do know of a couple old squarish red plastic box lights that are probly the 6 volt you describe. That will look cool hanging from the SCBA strap. I have a older wood hand axe for the 70s display.

    I am thinking of a fire extiquisher for the 80s display.

    Thanks
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber AFD368's Avatar
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    Extinguishers..........See if you can find an old Class A unpressurized, turn upside down water extinguisher !
    "The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
    Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
    from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
    I.A.C.O.J. Member

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    I believe the orange gloves were called "Fireballs". They would melt in high heat conditions. It didn't take long for them to be relagated to tanker ops as they were warm and kept your hands dry.

    We tend to resist change a lot more than we should. When I started real firemen usually didn't use breathing apparatus. You weren't broke in until got a good dose of smoke, puked in the yard, and went right back in. Nowdays you would be in serious trouble due to the change in interior finishes and furnishings. You used to expect wood, plaster and other "natural" finishes as opposed to plastics etc. Furnishings were for the most part wood, cotton, wool, and other natural products. The modern plastics produce more poison gasses and burn with a lot higher BTU.

    There was some resistance to nomex hoods. The old timers didn't like them because your ears were your temperature gauge. It was too hot for you to be there if your ears started to blister. The hoods provided too much protection.

    You might look for some of the old "bubble gum machine" apparatus warning lights. They are a lot different than our light bars.

    Stay Safe
    IACOJ

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    My original turnout gear was cotton duck. We started switching over to Nomex in the late 1970's. I got my first nomex coat in 1977. We used the orange "Fireball" gloves until I went out and bought a pair of regular leather work gloves. After observing me at several, the chief started buying them for the whole department. The gloves that we use today didn't start coming out for another couple of years.

    My original helmet was the fiberglass version that you describe. It was just about indestructible, but I remember it being very heavy. From that, we went to the "fantastic plastic" MSA helmets made popular by Roy and Johnny on Emergency. These were great everywhere except in a fire. They led to the development of the nomex hood. Our first nomex hoods were not made for the fire service. We had to purchase them at auto racing suppliers and modify the eye cut out to fit over an SCBA. It helped to have a girlfriend or wife who was handy with a sewing machine. Someone finally figured out that there were alot more firefighters out there than there were race car drivers and they started manufacturing hoods that would fit a mask.

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