What I Keep in My Pockets: Nick

Over the next week or so, a few of our instructors will each post a little about what they have in their pockets and why…  As a bit of background, I work in a diverse neighborhood of Washington, DC and spend most of my time on a ladder company, with an occasional detail to an engine.  We have a few good neighborhoods, but many are not.  We run a variety of building types: from ranchers to old victorians, multi-story walkup tenements, taxpayers, garden apartments, etc.

Click “read more” to find out what I carry & why….

  1. Right Chest:  
    • Spare Flashlight:  I carry a “box light” on all runs, but this is a lightweight backup.
    • “Double-Male”:  We use the Scott 50 SCBA and have discovered this $3 solution for buddy-breathing.  Should that ever be nessecary, this allows me to directly connect my EBSS (buddy hose) to my partners without having to mess with the disconnecting my left shoulder and coming off air.  I keep it on a spring clip with a large tab for easy access w/ gloves.
  2. Left Chest (in radio pocket):
    • I wear my portable radio on a radio strap under my coat.  This protects it and keeps it from being an entanglement hazard, or at the very least from swinging in front of me whenever I lean over.  I bring the speaker-mike out above my second to last coat clasp and clip it to the tab on my left.  
    • Cable Cutters:  Large “o-style” cable cutters.  For cutting a variety of things… Here they’re easily accessible.  Remember to clean / oil these things regularly.
    • 30′ of 1″ Webbing tied in a Loop:  Just coiled in there so it comes out quickly & easily.  No daisy chains, please.  This is the most versatile (and cheapest) tool you can have: for engine, truck, RIT, etc..)
  3. Right Pocket:
    • 50′ of Rope:  With carabiner… For raising tools to the roof, a hose line up through a window, venting a window from the floor above or roof, etc… Yes, also for bailout (but we try to avoid getting to that situation in the first place, right?)
    • Door Chocks / Straps:  However many will fit… Every door you go through has to be secured open, particularly when you’re paving the way for the engine to bring a line.
  4. Left Pocket:
    • Modified Channel-Locks:  Turning off gas lines, twisting off lock cylinders, etc.  I modified the two ends of the handle to function as a Key Tool for thru-the-lock methods.
    • Shove-Knife:  Cause its cheap and the Captain won’t let you break everything.  Honestly I think the homemade ones made from a putty knife are better, but this is what I got..
    • Small Screwdriver:  With interchangeable tips.  Various uses…
    • Uttility Knife:  Cutting up carpet during overhaul, various other uses…
    • More Door Chocks:  see above.

Then of course I have my firefighting gloves, hood, and work gloves, but thats about it.  I keep a small bag with me on the rig that has some other miscellaneous tools for non-emergency situations, but there is no sense in carrying all that with me all the time, I take what I need when I need it.

What do you carry in your pockets?  Whatever it is, you should only carry something if it is functional and you need it.  Like everything, size-up your job functions and your response area, then equip yourself appropriately.


4 Responses

  1. I carry much the same, but have also added a small section of a thick coat hanger for snaking between doors to pull panic bars. (works great at 3am for Nursing home calls) In addition, I carry a 15/16″ nozzle tip (since I’m assigned to an Engine Co) for maximum water flow as well as a 20′ retractable dog leash for searching rooms with limited visibility.

  2. Good points. We carry a similar tool for the panic bars on the rig with our forcible entry equipment, as well as a similarly designed retractable system on our Large Area Search kit.

    The nozzle tip is a great extra on the engine, gives you extra flow – as long as you have breakaway nozzles… A great set is the combination 15/16″ with a 1/2″ tip also… The 1/2″ tip is great for “hydraulic overhaul”.

  3. Piece of chalk for marking doors when initial and secondary searches have been performed.

    spring loaded center punch, valve stem tool, and medical shears for seatbelts (rescue related items)

    With reguards to the personal lights and/or lightbox type, the model with the leds (steady burn or flashing) increase your visibility 10x with your partners when doing searches, fire attack, etc.

  4. Always make it a point to ensure that ALL nozzles are break-a-ways WITHOUT pistol grips which restricts movement (RIP Lt Fredericks FDNY) The 1/2″ tip is awesome…cuts through drywall like a laser, Forgot one more thing that I carry for when I’m Line Boss…bungee cord to ensure that the door doesn’t close and the line get pinched on the Brothers inside.

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