1. #1
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    Default PPE in Urban Flooding ops

    In the thread that is discussing the problems the northeast is having with flooding someone posted pictures of Raleigh, NC firefighters dealing with flooding a couple of weeks ago. On a site geared towards Raleigh ff, several people criticized RFD members for wearing bunker gear while performing water rescues. My question, without trying to cause an argument, is what are the pros/cons, of and your personal opinions on what should and should not be worn when performing urban flooding rescues?

    Photos can be seen here: http://legeros.com/ralwake/photos/20...ital-blvd-mjl/

    and here: http://legeros.com/ralwake/photos/20...e-valley2-mjl/ *All photos taken by Mike Legeros

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    Con: It holds water like crazy--- you can drown!

    Don't wear your gear to any type of incident which might involve you getting in the water. Unless you would like to become a human boat anchor!

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    What does the average person wear when he sees a car floating down the river and decides to help out the person inside. he just wears a t shirt and pants. I would go with that and a PFD for safety and some sort of rescue helmet.

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    One of the basic tenets of swiftwater rescue is: "When given the choice between fire helmet and no helmet, always go with no helmet."

    Bunker gear is made for interior firefighting, NOT technical rescue, water rescue, or a host of other activities that we perform.

    Wear the PPE appropriate to the task you're performing.

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    How many fisherman drown because they fell in wearing waders? The wadres DIDN'T fill up, causing air pockets at the feet. The air posckets cause them to act like buoys and float while the rest of the body sinks. The person cannot right hmiself and is sucked under.

    Turnout boots would act the same way.

    I would also say that swiftwater rescue is a definite science that requires specific talents and knowledge. If possible, leave it to those trained people.

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    I can see the danger with 3/4 or hip boots, but I don't think it's very likely that below the knee turnout boots would fail to fill with water...or would have sufficient buoyancy to knock a FF over in the water. Perhaps, under perfect conditions, if you also had on bunker pants, but it seems unlikely.

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    For PPE during water rescue situations, I'd recommend wearing something similar to the picture below. Now with that being said, that picture is of the Charlotte FD USAR team helping victims of Hurrican Frances in the NC Mountains. Obviously they had time to plan, prepare, and deploy adequate resources to the necessary areas. The situation in Raleigh was slightly different in that the flooding was considered 'flash floods' that no one could adequately prepare and plan for. In an ideal world, everyone would be properly trained and equipped to handle these flash flood situations, but in the real world this is not the case. Some of the firefighters decided to wear their turn-out coat and/or pants for whatever reason is beyond me. For the most part, the firefighters carrying out the rescues were not wearing this gear. As for your original question, I'd go with what is pictured below:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.

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    Believe it or not bunker gear will trap air and cause you to float for a while, you just have to keep the openings at you hands and feet below the water. If I didn't see it I wouldn't believe it. It still wouldn't be my choice for the given situation though.

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    Regarding the Charlotte photo --

    One thing for people not familiar with that style of PFD (Rescue style) -- don't just take a standard PFD and clip a rope somewhere the wearer can't reach.

    A rescue PFD has a strap that goes around it with a fail-proof release on the front (lever-action). The tow rope, or anchor rope in this case attaches to it.

    If the rescuer gets in trouble, he just pulls the buckle to release the anchor -- sucks if you get towed under a snag and held their because of the line attached to you!

    Although I don't do technical level water rescue, and I'm not even that technical of a kayaker, I'd put it in the same class as a fire helmet: Given a choice between being tied off without a bomb-proof quick release and not being tied off, I'll take not being tied off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by E2L1R6
    Believe it or not bunker gear will trap air and cause you to float for a while, you just have to keep the openings at you hands and feet below the water. If I didn't see it I wouldn't believe it. It still wouldn't be my choice for the given situation though.
    How about the opening around your neck?

    With a little bit less sarcasm...I think that bit of information is good for, say, fighting a fire on a dock -- if you fall over, the turnouts probably will provide a modest amount of flotation for a brief amount of time.

    But that's a far different situation like you point out for actually going to work in the water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Regarding the Charlotte photo --

    One thing for people not familiar with that style of PFD (Rescue style) -- don't just take a standard PFD and clip a rope somewhere the wearer can't reach.

    A rescue PFD has a strap that goes around it with a fail-proof release on the front (lever-action). The tow rope, or anchor rope in this case attaches to it.

    If the rescuer gets in trouble, he just pulls the buckle to release the anchor -- sucks if you get towed under a snag and held their because of the line attached to you!

    Although I don't do technical level water rescue, and I'm not even that technical of a kayaker, I'd put it in the same class as a fire helmet: Given a choice between being tied off without a bomb-proof quick release and not being tied off, I'll take not being tied off.
    Thanks for elaborating and picking up my slack! I should've made my statements clearer.
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    Con: It holds water like crazy--- you can drown!
    Seems fair to me!!
    Luke

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    Quote Originally Posted by rookienc
    My question, without trying to cause an argument, is what are the pros/cons, of and your personal opinions on what should and should not be worn when performing urban flooding rescues?
    Pro - Don't wear your gear - you hopefully don't become water logged and drown.

    Con - For some reason the higher you go in rank, the more common sense you lose. Your chief will be mad, because he pays you to work on the fire department. He bought you turn out gear to be worn while working for said department.

    Side note. See the pro. Let the chief be ****ed. You'll still be alive to **** him off another day!
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    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Drysuit, rescue helmet and rescue PFD. Just as in the picture above.

    The suit is needed to keep all of the crap that is getting released from making contact with your body. Same as what happened down south with Katrina. You are going to have home heating oil tanks breaking loose, chemicals from every garage and store getting broken open. Anything that gets stored in a persons home or commercial building is up for grabs and you don't want that on you.

    Helmet, don't need a lot of explaination here. But with a water rescue helmet, it has holes perforated in it to allow water to flow thru, not trap it and pull your head along for the ride. Also they come down further in the back to provide protection to the upper neck.

    Rescue PFD, described very well in an earlier post. The only thing I would add to that description is that you are allowed a better range of movement with your arms due to reduced area of foam around the shoulders.


    I do have to disagree with an earlier post though that states that this could not be planned for because it was flash flooding. Much like the terrible hurricanes that we got hit with last year, with proper planning much more could have been done. True the extent was beyond what was thought possible, however to quote one of my many bosses (I don't know where he got this from so don't jump my bones) "training for the worst by being the best". Basicly, take your worst case scenario and add to it. Preplan your target hazards- for all types of rescue work you do from fire to ice-rescue, swift-water, surf-rescue, high angle and what ever else is out there. You should have a plan and if not know someone that does.

    And to add to the bit about floating in turnout gear. Grab your collar and trap the air in your coat. Remove SCBA, and fill your helmet with air and place it under your chest for flotation. We have been training with this lately, it will work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by E2L1R6
    Believe it or not bunker gear will trap air and cause you to float for a while, you just have to keep the openings at you hands and feet below the water. If I didn't see it I wouldn't believe it. It still wouldn't be my choice for the given situation though.

    No fooling,guys,this really happens.I seen it too.
    Seriously,a couple years ago,the Jackson Purchase Fire Association sponsored a marina firefighting seminar conducted by a member of FDNY's Marine division and he had pictures of a FF in bunkers and turnout coat sans SCBA floating in a pool of water.
    http://www.marinefirefighting.com for further details.
    Now,the controlled surface of a pool isn't the same as trying this in the Mississippi or even a lake but it does work in an emergency.I doubt I'd want to go wading in my turnout gear,though.It only takes 4 inches or so of water flowing to move a vehicle off its treads.That's more than what it takes to sweep YOU off your feet.
    I worked 7 years on the river as a deckhand,Mate,tankerman and Master 100 tons,and never went overboard.Once a year though,I take my walkie talkie off and empty my pockets of knives and anything else rustable and jump off the boat into McKellar Lake(Ugh!)and make sure the Mk V vest would work as advertised.
    Last edited by doughesson; 06-30-2006 at 12:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a
    Pro - Don't wear your gear - you hopefully don't become water logged and drown.

    Con - For some reason the higher you go in rank, the more common sense you lose. Your chief will be mad, because he pays you to work on the fire department. He bought you turn out gear to be worn while working for said department.

    Side note. See the pro. Let the chief be ****ed. You'll still be alive to **** him off another day!
    That's because common sense is like heat. Black absorbs it and white reflects it away.
    Last edited by GeorgeWendtCFI; 07-02-2006 at 12:14 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Regarding the Charlotte photo --

    One thing for people not familiar with that style of PFD (Rescue style) -- don't just take a standard PFD and clip a rope somewhere the wearer can't reach.

    A rescue PFD has a strap that goes around it with a fail-proof release on the front (lever-action). The tow rope, or anchor rope in this case attaches to it.

    If the rescuer gets in trouble, he just pulls the buckle to release the anchor -- sucks if you get towed under a snag and held their because of the line attached to you!

    Although I don't do technical level water rescue, and I'm not even that technical of a kayaker, I'd put it in the same class as a fire helmet: Given a choice between being tied off without a bomb-proof quick release and not being tied off, I'll take not being tied off.
    Dalmation...Are you a WW kayaker? I'm always looking for people to hook up with when I head to the appalachians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakking
    Dalmation...Are you a WW kayaker? I'm always looking for people to hook up with when I head to the appalachians.
    I'm a paddler too!

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    Ahhh, whitewater....someday I hope

    My skills, and especially my equipment is soooo not up to that!

    I do mostly flatwater and I also do soloing on rivers that I paddle upstream. Actually a helmet is next on my toy...err, equipment list because I've had places I've gotten to and discretion told me to turn around rather than risk slipping during a rocky ford...even though I knew there was a good paddleable stretch past the rocks. I could limp out with a broken arm...I wouldn't want to get knocked out while alone! I am hoping to get my skills & equipment up to a level to go out surfing on the ocean before this summer is out, but not sure I'm going to get to that...

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    Dalmation and MFD...Where are you guys located? I'm in the Dallas, TX area (yeah, I know, whitewater mecca)...but do most of my WW paddling in Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina area.

    There are some good "Intro to WW" rivers in that area that I'd be happy to take you (or anyone else) down. I even have some extra gear for those intersested in trying without having to invest much money.

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    Our firefighting gear is just that, firefighting gear. Flood water is some of the most hazardous water you will encounter.
    Their are physical, biological and chemical hazards in flood water. Then to top it off it is often moving. Stay out of it. Proper PPE is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

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    I Wouldn't Mind having My pants on When "Senior Sneaky Sanke" came floating down beside me ****ed off that he was cold and wet...but other than that its kinda of a judgement call, if it was over my knees no. However Think of all of the things that are submerged that you can't see and could slice yourself up on. Otherwise Its time for my trust Wildlands Gear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    How many fisherman drown because they fell in wearing waders? The wadres DIDN'T fill up, causing air pockets at the feet. The air posckets cause them to act like buoys and float while the rest of the body sinks. The person cannot right hmiself and is sucked under.

    Turnout boots would act the same way.

    I would also say that swiftwater rescue is a definite science that requires specific talents and knowledge. If possible, leave it to those trained people.
    I suggest you test that theory in a controlled environment like in a swimming pool with a diver present. We did it in rookie school and you WILL sink like a rock without an SCBA on.

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