Tools of the Trade
Turnouts are the pants and jacket set a firefighter wears to protect them from fire, heat, and steam. Turnouts are made of a fire resistive outer shell, moisture barrier, and a thermal barrier. A firefighter also wears boots, gloves, a fire resistive hood to protect the head and neck, and a helmet. The firefighter should be completely covered from head to toe before entering into a hazardous environment.
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus
All firefighters are equipped with a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), which is a portable tank of air with a mask the firefighter wears as a backpack into an environment that is oxygen deficient. The SCBA allows firefighters to enter a hazardous environment to extinguish a fire, make a rescue, or mitigate a hazardous materials spill or leak.
A set of irons is made up of a flat-head axe and a halligan tool. Together, these tools can be used to open locked doors, break padlocks, and aid in vehicle extrication. The halligan has a forked end, an adze, and a pick. The halligan is placed to accomplish the task and the axe is used to strike the halligan.
Hose and Nozzles
The term "bringing the right tool for the job" is very appropriate when discussing hose and nozzle selection. Firefighters have five sizes of hose on a first-out fire apparatus with a choice of nozzles for those hoses. The 1½” single cotton jacket hose, appropriate for a wildland application, will not deliver the needed amount of water for a wherehouse fire.
Crews use chainsaws to perform vertical ventilation at structure fires or to clear brush at vegetation fires.
Circular saws can be used to open locked doors or gates, remove security bars from windows, or to perform ventilation on metal roofs. The blades can easily be changed to cut concrete, metal, or wood.
Blowers are large fans used to evacuate smoke and gases from a structure after a fire. These blowers are placed in the doorway and can push massive amounts of air out of the house very quickly.
Hydraulic Tools / Hurst Tools
Hydraulic tools, including cutters, spreaders, and extension rams are most commonly used to remove a vehicle from around a trapped occupant of a vehicle. Hydraulic tools can also be used to free a victim trapped in a building collapse.
A pike pole is a long-handled tool with a hook and point on one end. Pike poles are used to poke a hole in the ceiling at the entry point and periodically along the route to the find the fire. This is to be sure the fire is not in the attic and is not spreading back toward the entry point. The pike pole is also used to pull down the ceiling during the clean-up stage of the fire.
Thermal Imaging Camera
The thermal imaging camera (TIC) is used to distinguish differences in temperature. It can be used in a fire to search for victims, find fire extension, and determine the source of electrical problems among other uses.
The pump panel is where the Fire Engineer (or driver) controls the delivery of water to the hoses which are applying water to the fire. The Fire Engineer must understand math and the hydraulics of moving water, in order to deliver the proper amount of water at the correct pressure. In terms of firefighting, too little pressure and not enough water, is just as dangerous as too much pressure and too much water.
An airway bag contains stored oxygen and there are different methods to deliver that oxygen, depending on need. With equipment in this bag, Salinas Firefighters can place an endotracheal tube down an unconscious person’s throat and secure an airway.