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    Default Dangers of Bunkers?

    There is always talk of making us switch to bunker gear and I was just wondering if anyone knew of any studies that looked at an increase of heat related injuries or heart attacks due to wearing those hot, bulky MF's. And no, I didn't do a search before posting! lol. Thanks.

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    I am a fan of the CFD and always wondered why Chicago is not wearing bunkers. Is there anyone else out there doing this in 2005? Why wouldnt you switch is my question?

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    what the heck are you using if you dont use bunker gear (other then proximity,hazmat and wildfire of course)

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    Default oh boy

    I would contact the Jakes in the Boston FD. Only a few years ago switched back to allowing members based on their roles and assignments and personal preferences wear what they wanted.

    This way the city provides the gear and they can't get sued if you don't wear it and get some burns or if you do wear it and have a heart attack or heat stroke.

    They did find that the incidence of heart issues increased with the use of bunker gear and burn injuries didn't change. Therefore they decided that especially in the summer months if the members lets say on the truck want to wear the old boots...there is nothing statistically/logicly stating that they shouldn't be able too.

    Also let me caution you bro, outside of the Windy city, Boston, San Fran/Sacramento/Oakland and FDNY guys on this forum you are probably going to get a bunch of safety susies from everywhere telling you and everyone how dangerous it is to wear 3/4 boots.

    There are good arguments on both sides however many see it as a one way situation.

    Just thought I'd warn you.

    Stay safe bro.

    FTM-PTB

    PS= As an Engine guy I can see the preference for bunker pants, when working in certain positions in the Truck I can see the postive aspects for wearing 3/4s or work boots (OVM, Roof etc.)
    Last edited by FFFRED; 05-11-2005 at 12:50 PM.

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    Maverick - we wear 3/4 boots and long coats. FFFRED thanks for the input and advice. ewelk - Why wouldn't we switch? I don't see any upside to switching. Not many guys a year get burned in an area that bunkers would prevent and it seems that bunkers would have a huge downside with heat injury, mobility, and comfort issues. I was interested if any agency had done any studies into the injury increase after a dept switched to bunkers. All I hear is that we should switch, but no one seems to have any numbers to back up the bunker argument.

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    Ask the Local 2 Brothers serving at O'Hare and Midway if they would go up to a fire involving a Boeing 747 or an Airbus 340 or any jet for that matter wearing 3/4 boots and long coats....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    If they wanted to go to fires at all they wouldn't be at O'Hare or Midway - duckers!

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    dangers of bunkers

    Someone finding the ventilation pipe and plugging int or sending in nerve gas

    if you are an Al Quaida dork, then you should know that the bunker busting missles are quite effective

    Oh, you meant turn out gear?

    So Sorry

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    Honestly, I wouldnt go into a fire with out bunkers. You couldnt pay me enough to wear the long coats and 3/4 boots. I had a long coat when i first joined and I hated it. We just got new bunkers and love them, light weight and much cooler (if you can call bunker pants cool(temp wise not looks wise)).
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    Chicago - I must apologize for not having an opinion on your question, but if you could post the manufacturer of your gear that would be great. I've always wondered what companies out there still made long coats. Thanks.

    Mike

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    "If they wanted to go to fires at all they wouldn't be at O'Hare or Midway - duckers!"

    Best line all week.

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    ChicagoFF - Fascinating! I too have often wondered why Chicago chooses to wear the long coats and 3/4 boots. It makes sense to me now.

    That was a funny line about duckers, wasn't it!
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    I just went and looked who makes them. The new ones issued are made by morning pride and the older, better ones with the rubber (nomex?) coating are made by cairns.

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    Default A Mixed bag

    I spent the majority of my fire service career wearing BOTH 3/4 boots and bunker pants. Bunker pants afford the better thermal protection hands down. BUT they are brutal in the summer. I also like the ability I have to move around with just the boots. Here is a link with real data from Boston. It has not been that long since we were mandated to wear bunker pants on structural fires. I just got a new pair of 3/4 boots today because they are great for grass, rubbish etc. I do like the pants in winter and I have gotten used to them in the summer. Its one of those subjects that everyone has strong and varied opinions on. No one is right or wrong. BOSTON STUDY
    Last edited by MIKEYLIKESIT; 05-11-2005 at 09:08 PM.
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    Default Re: oh boy

    Originally posted by FFFRED
    I would contact the Jakes in the Boston FD. Only a few years ago switched back to allowing members based on their roles and assignments and personal preferences wear what they wanted.

    This way the city provides the gear and they can't get sued if you don't wear it and get some burns or if you do wear it and have a heart attack or heat stroke.

    They did find that the incidence of heart issues increased with the use of bunker gear and burn injuries didn't change. Therefore they decided that especially in the summer months if the members lets say on the truck want to wear the old boots...there is nothing statistically/logicly stating that they shouldn't be able too.

    Also let me caution you bro, outside of the Windy city, Boston, San Fran/Sacramento/Oakland and FDNY guys on this forum you are probably going to get a bunch of safety susies from everywhere telling you and everyone how dangerous it is to wear 3/4 boots.

    There are good arguments on both sides however many see it as a one way situation.

    Just thought I'd warn you.

    Stay safe bro.

    FTM-PTB

    PS= As an Engine guy I can see the preference for bunker pants, when working in certain positions in the Truck I can see the postive aspects for wearing 3/4s or work boots (OVM, Roof etc.)

    I continue to be amazed at how we are all in the same business, but operate and look at things SOOOOO differently
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    The University of Illinois also did a very good study in the 1990's. I cant seem to find a link to the results. It was published in the trade magazines.
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    That study was in Fire Engineering (don't remember the issue.
    I started in 3/4 and while the bunkers are lighter then ever I would switch back if given a choice.
    If you get bunkers leather boots are a must.
    Their are still some cities that don't mandate bunkers. San Fran is still one I think.

    On a side note what does L.A. wear? It sure doesn't look like regual gear in the pictures.

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    i've never worn the 3/4 boots, so im curious to know how comfortable they are on the knees compared to the bunkers, i mean for doing tasks like crawling around and kneeling.

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    Originally posted by ADSNWFLD
    That study was in Fire Engineering (don't remember the issue.
    I started in 3/4 and while the bunkers are lighter then ever I would switch back if given a choice.
    If you get bunkers leather boots are a must.
    Their are still some cities that don't mandate bunkers. San Fran is still one I think.

    On a side note what does L.A. wear? It sure doesn't look like regual gear in the pictures.
    UNFORTUNATELY....

    San Francisco and Oakland both wear turnouts/hoods now....it sucks

    Sacramento City wears hoods but no turnout pants, and Hayward wears neither hoods or turnout pants...
    -------------------------------------
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    I am in the opinion you should have a choice. For most of the incidents I see or work at 3/4 boots would work just fine.

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    I have got to jump in here for the sake of “newer personnel” who may think it is more important to model “The Old Salty Jakes” and wear “¾ Boots” with no hood, than to be safe on the job and wear “Full Turnout Gear” to include a hood. While this is obviously not the norm, I am still surprised at how often someone will show up for Live Fire Training trying to wear ¾ boots and no hood.

    First, my comments are based on my personal experience and research, and I will try to stick to facts not opinions. I have worn both long coats with ¾ boots and full turnout gear, so I know both from first hand experience. I also know a large number of Brothers who have worn both, some are still with Depts that allow ¾ boots, and some are with Depts that have switched over.

    This topic has received a lot of formal and informal research, unfortunately a lot of the info from that research is not readily available to the public. To the best of my knowledge the Boston info that MIKEYLIKESIT posted is the only info that is out there for public access. I know there were a number of other “studies” that were done, but the results were never made public, primarily because it did not support the outcome that the agencies conducting the research were looking for. That being the case I would add the following comments based on my knowledge:

    Some Depts that switched from ¾ Boots to Full Turnout Gear did experience higher levels of heat and/or stress related injuries. There is no question that Full Turnout Gear can place higher levels of stress on the body due to greater weight, decreased mobility, greater heat retention, etc. How much of an increase depends on a lot of factors (design, flexibility, weight, and heat retention of the new gear). That being said there is a way to manage or offset the higher levels of stress placed on the body. The 2 primary ways are to limit the time personnel are working by rotating crews in and out more frequently, and by aggressively carrying out rehab when the crews come out. The big problem for Depts making the switch is that they have switched gear, but they have not switched the way they are operating. For the Depts who switched gear, but also switched the way they were operating (increased the rotation of personnel and conducted effective rehab), they saw no increase in the numbers of heat and stress related injuries. Phoneix FD has personnel fighting fires in full turnout gear in 100 Degree plus weather all of the time, and they do not have an excessive number of heat and stress related injuries, this is because they are very aggressive in educating and managing their personnel when it comes to rotation and rehab. If you ignore the additional stresses that full bunker gear places on personnel you will have problems, if you acknowledge it and act accordingly it can be managed effectively.

    So why should you switch if it will force you to change the way you are operating? Simple, because you are greatly increasing the level of protection that you have. Is the trade off worth it? I would personally say yes, and given that at least 90% of Depts in the Country are wearing full turnout gear I would say they also feel that way. You have to remember the fires of today and the buildings of today have changed dramatically. The fires are hotter, the buildings hold more heat and smoke in, and flashovers are more of a problem. There is also a huge increase in additional hazards such as Haz Mats and Acts of Terrorism. “The times have changed”, the gear also needs to change (not to mention the tactics/operating procedures). As far as research numbers go to support this, good luck getting them. Here are some numbers from FDNY:

    “The FDNY began using bunker gear in 1994, after which burn injuries dropped from 1,545 in 1993 to about 445 per year.”

    “Prior to full implementation of bunker gear, 1586 burn injuries to its members were recorded in 1994. In 1996, after fully outfitting members with bunker gear, burn injuries plunged dramatically, dropping nearly 60% to 651 burn injuries.”

    A lot of the research that has been done on this topic is very flawed. For example an agencies looks at the number of personnel who were burned while wearing ¾ Boots versus the number that were burned while wearing full turnout gear, and they do not note a big change in numbers so they conclude that there is not a big difference between the two. However what they don’t look at is the change in the number and types of fires that the personnel faced while wearing one or the other. They also don’t look at the differences in how the fires were fought wearing one or the other. For years people looked at the number of Brother who died in the Line of Duty and said the number is staying around a hundred per year, so while things were not getting better, they were not getting worse. Then someone actually looked at the big picture and realized that while the number of fatalities had not really changed, the number of fires personnel were responding to had almost dropped in half. This meant things were actually getting worse, because we were responding to less fires but the same number of Brothers were dieing.

    I have not doubt that if a proper research project was carried out, there would be a noticeable change in the number and severity of burn injuries that occurred when ¾ boots were worn versus full turnout gear. A real world example that supports this is illustrated by the photo below. A Brother from FDNY was opening up the front of a store when a propane cylinder just inside the front of the store BLEVED. As you can see from the photos the Brother was completely engulfed in flames. I don’t care how good you think you are, how many years of experience you have, or what type of gear you are wearing, you can not always avoid situations like this. Fortunately for the Brother FDNY had just switched over to full turnout gear and as a result the burns he suffered were greatly reduced. If the change over had not been made and the Brother was still wearing the old gear, this could have very easily been a career ending burn/injury. I know of many more of these situations where Brothers were caught in Explosions/Flashovers and they survived due to the higher level of protection they had with full turnout gear.

    Personally for me it’s a “no brainer”, I will take the higher level of protection, and make sure that I adjust the way I operate to avoid the “potential problems” that can come with wearing full turnout gear.

    Good Luck, Stay Safe
    Mike Richardson
    Captain/Training Officer
    St Matthews FD, Metro Louisville
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    Last edited by torichardson; 05-13-2005 at 03:10 PM.

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    I have been a firefighter for 27 years. I started out with pull up boots and a long coat. Hoods? There was no such thing back then. Helmets were the old MSA melt away plastics. Gloves were not really much more than leather work gloves. Our SCBA were Scott-Pak 1's with steel cylinders. Why this elaborate description? To make the point that I would not ever go back to anyone of those choices.

    In case it isn't clear by now I am a HUGE advocate of full bunkers to include bunker pants, shorter bunker coat, hood, NFPA approved helmet (Insert your desired style), and gloves that offer heat, abrasion and BBP protection. And the oft seen but not used SCBA that breaths easier, is lighter and more user friendly today than ever before.

    As far an my experiences with full bunkers...I have not seen a major increase in heat stress related problems in the departments I am a member of or have been a member of in the past. Rehab is more important than ever and a strict policy of when and how it should be done is critical. What I have seen is a reduction in burn injuries, and cut or other soft tissue style injuries.

    I have used bunkers of FR Cotton duck, Nomex and it's various blends, PBI, Advance, and aluminized CFR gear of different manufacturers. The worst was the CFR gear.

    There are more reasons to be fully protected in bunkers and SCBA then there are to wear pull up boots and long coats and carry but not use your SCBA.

    One man's opinion.

    FyredUp
    Last edited by FyredUp; 05-13-2005 at 03:30 PM.

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    Originally posted by CaptainS
    I am in the opinion you should have a choice. For most of the incidents I see or work at 3/4 boots would work just fine.
    Maybe....but how do you know what kind of incident you're going to have when you get there? You don't, so plan for the worst....

    A Brother from FDNY was opening up the front of a store when a propane cylinder just inside the front of the store BLEVED. As you can see from the photos the Brother was completely engulfed in flames. I don’t care how good you think you are, how many years of experience you have, or what type of gear you are wearing, you can not always avoid situations like this.
    My point exactly....You don't walk up to this building expecting to be engulfed in a giant fireball....but it can happen. Not a good time to decide that full bunkers might have been a better choice.....
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

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    By that resoning you would have to wear your bunker gear and mask, call for the collapse rig, the scuba team, fire boat and helicopter just to put out a two room fire. There has to be some balance between protection and freedom of movement otherwise we'd all be wearing those airport approach suits. People also mention limiting your working time. How many companies do you know that would surrender their line to ANY other company and go rest? Not here.

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