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Ordered to scrub your helmet?

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  • Ordered to scrub your helmet?

    It seems like we're on a helmet fixation lately, so might as well throw another one out there that I'm sure many people feel passionately about.

    We had a policy in one of my former departments that you had to keep your helmet clean. In other words, if you went to a big fire and got soot all over it, you had to clean it up. Sometimes the chief would let it slide for a while but after a couple of months he'd walk by the turnout rack and notice the helmets and he'd order the guys to clean them. If they didn't, he'd have the BC in charge of safety go around and clean them himself. That really *issed some guys off.

    The chief's main thing was safety. Not only did the soot cover up the reflective decals but it was the carcinogens. He reasoned it was no different than requiring guys to wash their turnouts after a major fire. His secondary reason was he thought the helmets just looked nicer and more "professional" when they were clean. Nothing he did during his tenure caused more controversy than messing with the helmets. But given I've had a couple recent NFA instructors start harping about keeping helmets clean, I guess he was before his time.

    Personally it's not an issue I care to tackle at my current department. The guys would flip out and there are more important safety things to worry about first, like making sure everyone has a good set of turnouts.

  • #2
    Micromanagement at its very best....

    It's like the Captain of a cruise ship that is sinking worrying about the arrangement of the deck chairs...
    Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 10-23-2010, 08:20 AM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    • #3
      And if you don't have them clean all the toxic crap off the helmets, they will be the first to run to the steward and want to sue for exposing them to carcinogens.
      & maintaining a hazardous workplace!

      [email protected] if ya do, [email protected] if ya don't !

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      • #4
        If being told to keep your helmet clean is micromanagement, then so are all other rules regarding cleaing the apparatus and the station.
        Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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        • #5
          Helmets

          The Department I worked for had a badge of honor that your helmet looked like $hit. The easy way to get them to clean it was have the rookie clean half of it for them and the rest will be taken care of.
          Respectfully,
          Jay Dudley
          Retired Fire
          Background Investigator
          IACOJ-Member
          Lifetime Member CSFA
          IAFF Alumni Member

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          • #6
            Dept SOP states that the firefighter shall keep his helmet clean, free of objects and debris and prepared for use.

            The Company Officers perform a gear check on the first shift of the pay period. (every two weeks).

            Because this dept has a history of OSHA violations, (Before my time), Policies are tough on PPE condition.

            The Jurisdiction's right to require safety compliance trumps the firefighter's individuals rights to do what they want.
            HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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            • #7
              Annually we would inspect the gear and give the guys a month to square it away... if they didn't then the officers would pull it wash and hang it back up wet. Noone wanted to have their gear cleaned on the day they were available and potentially miss a run.... so they would put it in the washer in the AM before they let town and then finish it when they got home.

              We actually had a probie who offered to wash/dry your gear for ten bucks during the day. Worked out pretty well.

              I'm not a big worrier about the carcinogens, more the nasty smells and having to do fire prevention details and just simple fire alarm/co alarm invests. Walking through people's homes with nasty smelling gear is not nice.
              I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

              "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

              "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JayDudley View Post
                The Department I worked for had a badge of honor that your helmet looked like $hit. The easy way to get them to clean it was have the rookie clean half of it for them and the rest will be taken care of.
                Now that's funny. Now I recall an officer or two doing that at my department too. Wash just half of it and it's almost guaranteed the other half will get washed too.

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                • #9
                  Our gear gets inspected twice a year, and they wash it while they have it at supply. Helmets get inspected and repaired as necessary. They will be fixed or replaced, but I have never seen one get cleaned.

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                  • #10
                    I know a guy who had his helmet "Turtle Waxed" by his crew as a joke. NOTHING would stick to that helmet for the rest of the time it was in service.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
                      Micromanagement at its very best....

                      It's like the Captain of a cruise ship that is sinking worrying about the arrangement of the deck chairs...
                      Not a very good analogy, because it assumes there's something majorly wrong with his department (in the same way that sinking is something that's majorly wrong with a cruise ship). Now I can't tell what department the OP is from; maybe you can, but I can't. So for all I know, maybe it's like the captain of a cruise ship that's running absolutely perfectly smoothly worrying about the arrangement of the deck chairs. If everything else is fine but the deck chairs are wrong...what else is there to do but order the deck chairs to be arranged?

                      That being said, I'm sure there's no such thing as a fire department where helmet cleanliness is the only thing to worry about. That doesn't mean it's not worth taking care of, though.
                      -Justin J. "JJR512" Rebbert

                      The comments and opinions I express are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or volunteer organization with which I am associated. Nobody is responsible for anything I say other than I alone.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chief_Roy View Post
                        It seems like we're on a helmet fixation lately, so might as well throw another one out there that I'm sure many people feel passionately about.

                        We had a policy in one of my former departments that you had to keep your helmet clean. In other words, if you went to a big fire and got soot all over it, you had to clean it up. Sometimes the chief would let it slide for a while but after a couple of months he'd walk by the turnout rack and notice the helmets and he'd order the guys to clean them. If they didn't, he'd have the BC in charge of safety go around and clean them himself. That really *issed some guys off.

                        .
                        I guess I am confused. Why would you NOT want to clean your gear (Other than the macho BS?)

                        And if a Chief officer has to tell someone - repeatedly - why are they still there?

                        Now, tasking a BC to do it? Personally? BS.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          I guess I am confused. Why would you NOT want to clean your gear (Other than the macho BS?)

                          And if a Chief officer has to tell someone - repeatedly - why are they still there?

                          Now, tasking a BC to do it? Personally? BS.
                          What he said

                          Plus, they have reflective tape on them for better visibility at night especially at MVA's. I guess getting hit by a rubbernecker is macho too??
                          My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

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                          • #14
                            I have to tell my 7 year old to put his dirty underwear in the laundry. An "adult" can't figure out why/how to clean (TAKE CARE OF WHAT THE TAXPAYER PURCHASED) his TO gear without being told to do so?

                            Recovery from the field includes cleaning all gear and you're/unit is not ready to deploy until it's 100% completed. The Fire Service should be any different?

                            I'd be total embarrassed for anyone that needed a supervisor/leader to tell him to clean his personal equipment. Immature.

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                            • #15
                              Yeah..............

                              Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                              Walking through people's homes with nasty smelling gear is not nice.

                              Some years back, we ran a Call for "Bells" in a single Family home...... The Captain asked the Homeowner several questions about the Smoke Detectors and ended with "When the Alarm went off, Did you smell any Smoke??" The Homeowner's Reply - "Not until the Firemen came in the House....".....
                              Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                              In memory of
                              Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                              Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                              IACOJ Budget Analyst

                              I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

                              www.gdvfd18.com

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