Fire suppression operations can encompass many different things. Everything from very complex operations that require perfect timing and coordination between crews to simple operations involving the bottom of a boot stomping out a burning piece of paper fall under the heading of fire suppression. What we would like to do here is show you some of the equipment we may use during various fire operations, as well as how and why we use it.
Of course the most basic piece of equipment for any firefighter is their turnout gear. Our department uses gear from various manufacturers, but most recently we have purchased gear from the Morning Pride TAILS line. Most everyone's gear is actually a little bit dirtier than the one you see pictured here, but that is to be expected!
Firefighting is a messy, dirty job. In addition to the coat and pants, full turnout gear consists of a helmet, nomex hood, gloves, suspenders, and boots. One common misconception some folks have about turnout gear is that it allows a firefighter to go through flames. That is not the case. The gear is designed to be heat resistant, but protection from direct flame contact is limited. Some protection is there, but not for very long.
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
In addition to the turnout gear, in most instances we also must wear SCBA or Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (not to be confused with SCUBA gear, which is for use under water). The SCBA we use in our department are manufactured by Scott. SCBA are the air tanks that you see on the back of a firefighter along with the mask on her/his face. We use them whenever there is a fire or the potential threat of a hazardous condition or environment. What that boils down to is we wear them on almost all incidents.
Inside the air tanks is normal breathing air (about 21% oxygen) that gets fed into the mask through a pressure regulator. The air bottles that we use on our airpaks are filled to about 4500 psi when full, which gives you about a 15-20 minute air supply under heavy working conditions. When air in the bottle gets low an alarm sounds indicating the need to replace your bottle.