By John B. Tippett Jr.
Published Thursday, September 1, 2011
| From the September 2011 Issue of FireRescue
Rapid turnout time is an expectation fire departments set for all of their operational elements. One factor that contributes to rapid turnout time is how the members of a company set up their PPE, SCBA and other equipment to speed their “out the door” time. This month, we’ll look at excerpts from three Near-Miss Reports all of which underscore being truly ready to go when the bells ring. To read the full reports, visit www.firefighternearmiss.com.
“The officer’s seatbelt got caught in the door latch, preventing the door from closing all the way. When the engine made a hard left turn, the officer’s door opened and the firefighter fell out. The firefighter hit the road and injured his left leg and struck his head.”
“We responded to a structure fire. I put on my SCBA while en route as usual. We pulled up with a moderate amount of smoke showing from the residence. Upon making entry into the residence, I turned on my SCBA and proceeded to click the regulator into my face piece. I got several feet into the smoke-filled residence and I noticed that I was having a hard time breathing air from the regulator. I immediately exited the structure due to an SCBA malfunction. When I took off the malfunctioning SCBA, I noticed a fair amount of air leaking from around the buddy breather. After the fire I placed another SCBA in my seat that was ready for use. I placed the shoulder straps over the back padding as usual. When I did so, I noticed that the buddy breather was sitting between the door panel and the grab handle we have on the engine to assist with entering the cab.” (Note: See the Resources Page of www.firefighternearmiss.com for photos of this near miss.)
“I walked to the driver’s door of my engine, put on my bunker pants and grabbed my turnout coat, which was hanging from a grab bar at the driver’s door. I flung the coat around, placing my left arm into the sleeve, and catching my right arm into the other sleeve. I jumped up into the engine and began flipping switches to start the truck. I gave a quick look at the firefighters in the rear of the cab, and then looked to my officer for the OK sign to head out the door. As I scanned the cab, I noticed a cord hanging out of the left side of my turnout coat collar. Looking down at the driver’s door and interior foot step well, I also noticed the end of an electrical cord that is used to keep the rig charged up prior to any calls.”
Properly setting out your PPE when reporting for duty is just as much a part of being operationally ready as knowing how to use your SCBA or your ERG, or memorizing the pump pressures for your pre-connects. Following are steps you can take to ensure that your riding position is ready to go:
- Scan the riding position for potential snag, catch and pinch hazards.
- Ensure that all equipment in your immediate riding area is properly secured and cannot become a missile should the apparatus be involved in an evasive maneuver or collision.
- Don as much of your PPE as possible before entering the apparatus.
- Keep charging cords and other accessories away from PPE staging set-ups.
- Periodically check your PPE and SCBA straps throughout the shift to ensure that the gear has not been disturbed and the straps have not fallen out of position.
Getting out quickly will always be a mandate for the fire service. However, turnout time can be compromised when PPE set-ups are disturbed or straps and harnesses become entangled. As such, we need to maintain a constant awareness of our equipment and riding area prior to alarm notification—this will ultimately help preserve the spirit of speedy turnout times.
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