What Kind of Equipment Do Firefighters Use?

Written by carolyn barton
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Not only do firefighters undergo extensive training, but they also require specialised equipment in order to fight fires and rescue victims from a variety of different situations. They also use special gear to ensure their safety while performing their duties.

Turnout Gear

Turnout gear is also referred to as bunker gear. It is the protective clothing and tools that protect a firefighter. Turnout gear includes insulated trousers that have extra padding on the knees. These trousers are held up by suspenders and generally have two large pockets and one smaller pocket. An insulated jacket features large pockets to hold a radio and flashlight plus any other items that may be needed. Firefighters also wear insulated gloves and steel-toed insulated boots. Other items included in turnout gear are the helmet with a face shield and the SCBA, which stands for self-contained breathing apparatus. This gear weighs an average of 31.8 Kilogram and it usually takes at least a full minute to get it all on, according to the Dekalb County Fire Department in Dekalb County, Tennessee.

Extrication Tools

There are a variety of tools used by firefighters to remove someone from a car or other confined space. Hydraulic cutters are used to cut through metal to remove a victim from a vehicle or rubble. Hydraulic spreaders pry open vehicle doors and bonnets. These tools require a hydraulic pump that is either mounted on the truck or in a small movable unit. The jaws of life combines all these tools into one and is the piece of equipment most often used in auto accidents.

Forceful Entry

If a firefighter needs to enter a burning building, he often has to force his way in. A fire axe is one tool that can be used to break down a door, break out a window or chop through a roof. Another tool that is commonly used is the halligan tool. This tool can be used in several ways: it can be used to pry a door open or break a door down. It can also be used on vehicle doors and bonnets. Another favourite among many firefighters is the insulated fire boot. One swift kick to most doors with this boot is enough to gain entry quickly.


Rescue for a firefighter can include dragging a victim from a burning vehicle or saving someone from a burning building. Ladders are a very important part of rescue equipment. Most departments have ladder trucks that can extend far enough to handle most situations, but they also use smaller detachable ladders for smaller jobs. Firefighters have oxygen and other first aid equipment available to help victims until EMTs arrive.

Ventilation Fans

While chainsaws and axes are often used to create holes in roofs and walls in order to provide ventilation, large fans are also used to either bring fresh air in or to push smoke out of a structure.

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