I’m Sorry If It’s Too Loud

Okay, so I know that it’s been a while since I have last posted, so I thought I’d start with a short one as I dust off my keyboard. This story occured a few months ago, and I have been meaning to share it, but haven’t gotten around to it, until now. One thing that I have always advocated to everyone is the standard morning checks of one’s equipment prior to starting the shift. In addition to the standard SCBA checks of checking the bottle, turning it on and hearing a PASS device arm, I also allow my PASS to alarm after the 30 second time out. Once it alarms, I silence it, then re-activated it by pushing the manual activation button before silencing it for good. Upon completing this ritual, a “senior” firefighter came up to me and said, “You know that’s pretty loud, right?”
Of course, my reponse went something like this, “Well ya, I think it’s supposed to be, right? So when I fall through a floor, someone may hear it and help me, right?”
Thus, he replied, “Well, you don’t have to check it every morning, the things do work, and they are pretty loud in the morning. Do you really think it’s necessary to go that far in your checks, that is why we carry radios, so you can call the Mayday if you need it.”
Well, I had to leave it at that, because I was clearly not going to change this firefighter’s mindset, yet still knowing that I am in the right. I also elaborated to him that there are only 2 things on the fireground that I can control which could save my life: My PASS device and my radio, which was another thing he didn’t seem to understand. I always change my own battery in the morning at shift change, and tell my guys to get in this habit as well. This way, you know you are startign fresh in the morning, and not depending on someone else to do it for you. I know in many departments and companies have a good policy of the chauffer doing this job, but I still recommend taking the additional 30 seconds to make sure yourself that you are ready to go to work. No one else is responsible for your life, but you. Anyways, in closing, take a few extra minutes and really go over the equipment that could mean the difference between being heard and saved versus not working and being dead. We can only hope that this culture of safety will continue, and that we can contiue to lower the LODDs in this country every year we think this way.
-Ladder Jack


  • Triple J says:

    With 32 years in the Fire Service, currently as an Engine Company Lieutenant, I make sure that whoever is working with me ALWAYS checks their PPE completely. That includes both manual alarm and also making sure the PASS activates after the 30 second time out. With the seat brackets for our SCBAs, everyone has a different preference of how they like to set it in. I personally set it so I can grab it and put it on outside the Engine. I have a tall torso, so it is easier to hike my SCBA harness up to where it should be for maximum comfort. Others can get it on just right within the cab. Regardless, we all sleep much better knowing that our SCBA will work properly and will not be tangled in the seat when we need it. I also have everyone check their radios and batteries and make sure that everyone has a spare. Grant it, some Departments may have their Engineers check everyone’s SCBA, but not here.

  • Nate Quartier says:

    Right on LadderJack!

    Everyone ultimately has to be accountable for their own equipment. I’ve had several occasions where that brief, yet thorough, morning check prevented problems on jobs later in the day. On the flip side, I’ve also seen some complacent members experience preventable problems due to lack of a check-out (an officer can’t be very effective on the fireground when he’s dangling from the cab due to a tangled/snagged SCBA strap)…just sayin’.

    For the member who has a problem with the noise, you should tell him to put in a request for ear plugs and advil. 🙂

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