Thread: Chicago Bunker Gear
02-06-2004, 09:21 PM #1
- Join Date
- May 2003
Chicago Bunker Gear
I was wondering if Chicago firefighters are issued 3/4's (I think that's what they are called ), or are they given an option? I've been looking at some recent pictures and I noticed almost everybody was wearing them instead of what I consider to be "modern" bunker gear. What are the advantages/disadvantages to wearing 3/4's? Are they just worn mostly because of tradition?
Also, I'm probably going to be in Chicago around the 21st of this month from a few hours south, are there better times than others for a fire explorer to stop into a firehouse and say "HELLO" and hopefully get a quick tour, or is any reasonable time okay?
02-06-2004, 11:00 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2000
- Wheaton IL
The 3/4 are the issued gear for CFD. They have tested bunkers many times over the last 10 or so years.
3/4 have the advantage of keeping heat stress down.
I've worn both and see advantages and disadvantages to both. I'm real use to the pockets on my bunkers and being in the middle of the winter the insulation is nice. Also my knees appreciate the extra padding.
On the other side running alarm after alarm in Aug. when it's 95 with 100% humidity, the 3/4 win hands down. After the fire is knocked turning down your boots was real nice. You also don't get waterlogged pants dragging on the ground, and in deep water you don't get your feet wet. Another nice feature is that you could feel how the conditions were. When it got uncomfortable you needed to change something, vent, extinguish, or get out.
02-07-2004, 02:05 AM #3
Non-NFPA Compliant? I'm sure that makes a lot of people cringe.
A few months ago I bought a pair 1/2 price for utility use, and caught a bunch of crap for "wasting" money. I don't have enough years under my belt to have used them in fire conditions, but I'd like to at least give them a try in training (with a long coat).
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02-07-2004, 07:02 PM #4
I have used both also. But, I truley believe a full set of bunker gear is safer than the 3/4's. There may be certain times of the year 3/4's are more comfortable, but bunkers gives you better protection.
The only thing that is interesting is the very low number of severe burn injuries Chicago has. Just like a TIC, your SCBA, and even your ax they are all tools. You can use any of them improperly and be severly injured or killed.
Some of my associates on the Chicago Fire Department say the only reason they still have 3/4s is the large number of active members that are old timers and still believe in old school tactics. They claim with bunkers on you go in too far and dont realize how bad it is until its too late. Im a firm believer in preserving tradition, but not over risking ones life.
Our job has turned into a science. We have learned to 'read' the behavior of fire. As cool as they look, and as much as I like wearing them I'd never wear them in a working fire. I do have a pair for hose testing, hydrant testing, and digging out hydrants.
Those of us that live in Chicago Land however know they have their hands full at the moment. Between the investigation of the County building fire, alleged cheating on EMT test, and using racial slurs over the radios they never seem to be out of the lime light. God love 'em. Cuz I do!
02-08-2004, 08:42 PM #5
I've done between a third to a half of my 35 years in 3/4 boots."Read"fire, my caboose.The only way to accurately do that is by putting your time in.Simulators and schools can start you in the right direction but NOTHING beats working and training the dragon.I wear full gear now but I don't consider it any "safer"than my old ensemble.With the "old stuff"you didn't push in as deep,learned nozzle control and proper venting to get where you had to go so you didn't have the dangers of flashover you do today.You couldn't stand it in conditions that would indicate the start of flashover,you either had to vent,kill the fire or back out.But in temps over 80F or high humidity conditions you could work crews longer without rehab than you ever could or ever will in full gear.So there's a tradeoff.I cannot think of any higher incidence of burn injuries in OUR dept.using one system vs the other.I DO have higher heat stress/rehab numbers using full gear.I'll run a much larger manpower pool in the summer now than I would if we still used 3/4s.The under 20 yr folks will argue that full gear is the ONLY way to go.The 20 -30 yr set will tip either way.The over 30 yr folks,well lets just say I think it would make an interesting survey.I think the biggest key to fireground safety is to have well trained troops with some common sense that can and will "call it"when conditions warrant.And Chief officers smart enough to listen.T.C.
02-08-2004, 10:40 PM #6
Maybe I didn't explain myself enough. NO snot nosed probie is gonna be able to 'read' a fire right out of the academy. That comes with experience at REAL fires. Like I said, bunkers are nothing more than tools just like the 3/4s and everything else we use on the job. If used properly, they are an excellent asset. BUT, one can get too confident in them, go in too far, stay in too long, not rehab when you should, etc. And we all know when this happens someone is gonna get hurt.......or worse! Thats what guys like you are there for to show the youngins the ropes!
Don't get me wrong I like 3/4s...But I'll wear the bunkers over 3/4s in a fire, not only is it department policy, but my preference. I personally feel safer in them. I'm not an old salt like you , but I have over 16 years in this biz, and I'm just stating what Ive experienced.
It is strange that there aren't cold hard facts which has more burn injury incidents over the other, where the bunkers cover(upper legs/groin) and the 3/4s do not. I know of 4 injuries in Chicago in recent years where brothers on the job were severly injured in the upper leg and groin areas.
I was trying to answer outoffocus's question why CFD wears 3/4s. I know 4 senior chief officers. All 4 of them told me the only reason they still use them was in fact because of tradition. Im a firm believer in preserving tradition.Leather helmets, black gear, red trucks , and brass poles. But, if you disregard safety over tradition you are looking for trouble. Maybe there is a CFD brother here that could shed more light on the subject.
The other thing I take pride in is learning from my elders. You started this job when I was still wetting the bed, all wide eyed about my buddies dad sliding the brass pole, hopping on the back tail board with his 3/4s, canvas coat, and beat up leather helmet (yes, Im a leatherhead!)! I respect where you have been, and what you have to say. I wouldn't be doing this job if it weren't for guys like you.
Last edited by fieldseng2; 02-08-2004 at 10:45 PM.
02-08-2004, 11:02 PM #7
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- Rising Sun, MD
I thought I had seen where Boston did a study a couple years ago and went back to 3/4s also... and don't some places out in California (San Fran, maybe) go with station boots, station pants, and a turnout coat??
02-08-2004, 11:46 PM #8
I do believe under certain weather conditions Boston is allowed to wear 3/4s
02-09-2004, 12:26 AM #9
- Join Date
- Sep 2003
San Fransisco has gone to full bunkers (I believe). Sacramento City firefighters have the option of wearing wool pants, and I think Oakland still does as well. Sound crazy? A lot of guys like the mobility, and I haven't heard of any lower extremity burns. It's also a popular option when the temp. is above 100.
02-09-2004, 10:57 AM #10
OMG, Wool Pants!!! That would be nearly as bad as full turnouts wouldnt it?
Why not wear some wildland PPE pants as station gear if you dont want to go with full turnouts.
We just bought full wildland PPE in Advance, it is not noticably hotter then our old green USFS issue nomex pants. It is not any hotter then blue genes realy.
Here is what I am talking about.
They even have a dedicated station wear pant, but I dont see any reason not to go with the Advance facbric. I think you can get that in blue also.
The pant cuffs velcrow shut/tight around your leg, so slipping into 3/4 boots would be that much easier. You have the benefit of hip pockets also.
I have never used 3/4 boots before at a fire, just for other work.
What has always bothered me about 3/4 boots is the kneeling and crawling. I know there is the duck walk, but it doesnt seem as fast or stable as the crawl. How do you drag around larg object/people while duck walking?-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.
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02-09-2004, 01:59 PM #11
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
I know the San Francisco guys love their "woolies"....I think they would kill for 'em. I guess its one of those "don't knock it til you have tried it" kinda things.
02-09-2004, 03:49 PM #12GFDSlappyRobFirehouse.com Guest
I have seen some of the Chicago FF's waering bunker gear. It looks a lot like the FDNY Morning Pride gear. I think they were just experimenting with bunker gear to see if the guys like it.I agree it is a lot nicer to have 3/4 gear on in the summer.
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