Take a good look at this label from the inside of one of our protective hoods. Fire Dex specifically uses the term ULTRAHAZARDOUS, not to mention unavoidably dangerous in connection with firefighting. It also specifically says you may be BURNED with NO WARNING. Now given these clear, unambiguous warning statements and disclaimers you would think the fire administration would have more sense than to PUNISH firefighters who get injured wearing this gear. In plain words you can get burned fighting fires, no matter if you are wearing a hood or not and without warning. Hear that all you workmen’s comp lawyers out there?
In fact, no one makes gear that will guarantee 100% safety while engaged in structural firefighting. When you think about it, it’s an absurd notion. The only way to remain 100% injury free is to not fight fires. Now while there is an extreme amount of risk involved in our profession, there are lots of things we do to minimize it. However we will never eliminate risk all together. For example, one of the best ways to keep injuries down is through early detection and fast response to incipient fires. This week my company responded to two serious dwelling fires. Our crews were able to make short work of them simply because we got to them quickly, thereby preventing catastrophic damage and loss of life. That’s a statistic you just can’t quantify for the bean counters.
This administration has declared war on the rank and file firefighters and continues to intimidate and harass us. The Mayor’s Chief of Staff (a career defense lawyer who represents cop killers) has even gone as far as to say that injured firefighters should quit. How ugly. He implied that our guys are getting injured because they aren’t wearing their gear properly. Let’s get something straight: I have NEVER met a firefighter who WISHED TO GET BURNED. In the midst of interior firefighting anything can happen. Guys fall, walls collapse, people get hit with hose streams, it’s an intense and frightening place to be. There are times when your gear becomes dislodged or knocked off completely. It happens. No one is stupid enough to do it on purpose. The only time firefighters may take a shortcut is when they are trying to save someone’s life. Other than that we are dedicated PROFESSIONALS – unlike the Chief of Staff.
Take a good look at this picture:
This is what happens to a state of the art, structural firefighters protective coat when molten aluminum (from a house’s aluminum siding) drips on it. It’s the coat of a friend and co-worker who was severely burned. It’s yet another example of our protective gear being defeated by a fireground hazard. Is there any doubt he was wearing his coat correctly when his arm is burned right through the sleeve? Of course not. So while we are fighting more intense fires, our injuries are going up correspondingly and the administration has decided to take it out on the firefighters. That’s the sad state of affairs in today’s PFD.