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3/4 or turnout?

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  • 3/4 or turnout?

    I think this question has been asked here before, but I missed it. I have been in the fire service for 7 years now, and I missed the whole long coat 3/4 boot era. I was just wondering what some of you folks that have experienced both styles think.


  • #2
    Mike, I just posted almost the exact question in the Safety and Survival topic. I rode with Chicago Squad 2 this week and was able to go in on three fires while I was there. I have been a suburban (Chicago) FF my whole career and have only used full bunker gear while being critical of Chicago for continuing to use 3/4's. After going to three fires in one day I must say I think I've changed my mind. You're ability to move is VASTLY improved in 3/4's. You're ability to sense changes in the atmosphere is VASTLY improved. The weight of the gear is MUCH less. Drying time after the incident is VASTLY decreased (even on the 85 degree 80% humidity day I rode on). True, there is a greater concern for safety with 3/4 gear and I haven't truly made up my mind on that issue. For every guy that has horror stories of himself or a buddy being injured while wearing 3/4's there are an equal amount for bunker gear. Plus, so many of the heart attacks and strokes that are killing us on an increasing basis are being linked to over exertion and stress. Think bunkers have anything to do with that? Am I totally sold on going back to the "old" way? I don't know. All I can say is that my experience with the 3/4's was positive while all my experience with bunkers has been, for the most part, a pain in the butt.

    The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect those of my Department or it's Administration.


    • #3
      I have had just over 10 years f/f experience, and I have fought fire in both 3/4 boots and bunker pants. I'm afraid my opinion is that wearing 3/4 boots is an out dated and dangerous system. I never want to have to repeat it. True, as far as turn around time for the next call, there is almost none with the 3/4 boots. But I still end up in a lot better shape after the fire wearing the bunker pants. The 3/4 boots offer no padding what so ever and almost no heat protection. The argument may be made that the bunker pants are so much heavier than the boots. My point however is this, if you spec your gear out right, they won't be like wearing a sleeping bag over your legs. Range of motion in bunker pants has to do with several things, how well you were measured for them. Off the shelf gear is basically universal gear, (universal, fits nothing) but if you get your gear measured to fit you, will will have no problems at all. Also, and this is another big thing, what brand and style of gear you buy. Myself I own a set of Morning Pride with the tail coat. My company set is Janesville, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. It covers up too high, rides up when I try to step, and bunches up. Not good gear. Heat stress was mentioned. One of the things that many people don't realize when they spec gear, is that the vapor barrier what causes a great deal of your heat and hydration problems. Neoprene, in my opinion should not be used period. After all, would you wrap your self in plastic bags and go jogging down the street? Well that's basically what you do with a neoprene vapor barrier. If you get the right gear, it will serve you well for many years, if you mess up you will regret it as long as you're stuck with it. It all comes down to you get what you pay for. I hope this was of some help to you. God bless and stay safe.
      Randall Guntrum FF/EMT
      If lights, sirens and air horns do not attract the attention of a driver, he or she is too drunk to be assisted by a paint scheme.


      • #4
        I have to agree with what Gooch26 said about getting the gear sized for you. I do have limited experience with 3/4 boots, most of my career I have had full turnout. We used to get off the shelf gear from globe...motion was limited. About 2 years ago, we started changing over to Globe PBI gear. Everyone was fitted for the gear by the sales rep (or whoever he was). With the fitted gear, my range of motion has increased dramatically. Also, the PBI gear is lighter than our old gear, so it is less strenuous.


        • #5
          I began wearing the full turnout ensemble a few years ago after seeing a video of someone caught in a flashover while on a ladder. I would rather be a little uncomfortable rather than the alternative.
          Personally, I find the 3/4 boots hotter than bunker pants (when they are worn as they should be!) Adequate rehab and keeping oneself hydrated properly are the keys to wearing the full PPE ensemble safely.

          Firefighters: rising to accept the challenge!
          Captain Gonzo

          [This message has been edited by Captain Gonzo (edited 05-09-2001).]


          • #6
            I agree with HallwaySledge. There is a reason Boston and Chicago use 3/4 boots and he saw part of that first hand. If you talk to guys in Chicago or Boston about safety and guys getting burned, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. (also SanFran)

            [This message has been edited by mamaluke (edited 05-04-2001).]


            • #7
              When I started in 1982, I road the back step, wore a cotton duck coat, 3/4 boots, leather helmet, and a Silver Dollar Scott with a steel bottle.

              I still wear a leather helmet...all the other stuff I have nice nostalgic thoughts about, but I don't miss much.

              Would I feel at risk entering a structure in 3/4 boots? No, not really, God knows I did enough of it as a kid. Would it be my preffered method? No, the freedom of movement and less thermal stress of the boots doesn't make up for the protection of the pants in my opinion...but its just that an opinion. Having survived a flashover with just minor burns in full PBI PPE however, I can say I don't think I would have walked away from it in 3/4 boots.


              • #8

                Sounds like we started in the same dept, except I started riding in 1977.

                I miss the days of long boots and 3/4 coats, more freedom of movement.

                If I had my choice I'd still wear long boots and 3/4 coats.

                Just my opinion.



                • #9
                  When I started in the fire service we had 3/4 boots. When bunker pants became more common we switched (late 80's). I personally can't say that I've been to a fire where they would have prevented an injury. They are a lot hotter and I believe they lead to heat stress faster. U of I did a study some years ago published in Fire Engineering that stated ff's in bunkers got considerably hotter while wearing them.

                  Chicago hasn't been burning the legs off of their firemen. I haven't heard about Boston having a sudden increase in injuries either. What I am curious about is San Francisco. I saw an incident in SF in this months Working Fire Video, and it showed SF firefighters without bunkers or 3/4 boots. I would have to guess that their footwear is the NFPA approved "combat style" leather boots. worn with FR pants. Does anyone know if they have always been like that or is this an experiment like Boston? Also do they have a comparative injury rate with everyone else?

                  As for myself I would like the option to go back to 3/4 boots depending on the type of call or weather.


                  • #10
                    15 minute Scott Air Paks were great also, but they went the way of the horses and spring-loaded ladders. There is too much bad stuff out there to use 3/4 boots (they are great at the boat ramp, though!)


                    • #11
                      During the day I wear nothing more then a pair of work boots, At night, If I'm not driving i will wear my pull up boots. Since my dept has allowed us to wear this, I have not heard of any increase in injuries. If we have, we would be wearing our bunkers.

                      ** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**


                      • #12
                        Regarding the question about the SFFD:

                        About 5 years ago I stopped in at a couple of their stations while there on vacation and had the same thought. During the day, these guys just threw on their coat, helmet and air pack and fought fire! This was in 1996, and it looked like an episode of Emergency from the early 70's.

                        When I asked about it, I was told: A) Our station work boots are steel toe and steel shank, just like bunker boots. B) Our station pants are wool, and wool doesn't burn, (huh?!) and C) That's the way we've always done it here, and it works just fine.

                        The oddest thing is that they did have bunker pants/boots, but they would only wear them at night, and only then because they were easier to jump in to coming out of the rack. Any of you SFFD guys have any comments on that. Still done that way? Anybody ever hurt because of it?

                        Only speaking for my department, but if I ever tried to step off a rig dressed like that, I'd be looking for a new job. You could practically walk on the moon with the gear we have available to us now, I can't even imagine anybody fighting fire in station pants and work boots in this day and age.

                        Fire service survival tips:
                        1) Cook at 350...
                        2) Pump at 150...
                        3) When in doubt, isolate and deny entry...
                        4) When in trouble, claim ignorance and lack of adult supervision.


                        • #13

                          It is possible to fight fire aggressively, and do a lot of it, perfectly safe without bunker pants. Chicago, San Fran and Boston are living proof. They are not getting burned. And- wool pants offer quite a bit of protection. Just because 3/4 boots or wool pants are not the latest, doesn't mean they are not the greatest. A guy in Chicago went through a roof recently wearing wool pants. He went right into the fire below. He got out quick and was not burned. If I remember right, some of his gear was actually burning when they pulled him out, so it was hot where he landed, but he didn't get burned.


                          • #14
                            I asked around, there has been no INCREASE in injuries since we have gone to the options. With the warm weather coming I am seeing fewer and fewer bunker pants on the boys.

                            ** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**


                            • #15
                              Turnouts, turnouts, turnouts!!!

                              Lt. D. Gordon
                              Greendale Fire Department
                              Greendale, IN


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