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Protective hoods...

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  • Protective hoods...

    What are your opinions on protective hoods? Does anyone agree with the statement that if you wear one, you may be too "encapsulated" to know when you are in too far? Can you better judge the heat conditions without one? Is it worth the risk not to wear one? This is an argument that I've heard before from a variety of people. There are times that it has saved my hide from serious injury, like when I was leading the search team in a split-level two story home and had passed the fire, a heavily involved living room, to continue my search. I was in a hallway that had a little rollover, but great visibilty as the fire had vented through the front bay window. As I reached the end of the hall to enter a bedroom, some unnamed truck-ape decided to vent the window from outside without communicating to anyone. In seconds the visibilty dropped to zero, and the heat dropped all the way to the floor as any fire that wasn't going out the front had been pulled into the hallway, and the area became heavily involved (above four feet from the floor). I was forced to bypass the fire a second time in order to reach a position of safety (the bedroom had a hollow-core door that had burned away from the knob-level on up, and would have provided no protection), this time in a flat belly crawl instead of on all fours. all of the paint on the top of my leather almost completely burned away, but I escaped with only first-degree burns on my ears and neck, and around my face. I realize that the hood saved my butt. However, on smaller fires (bedroom, small room-and-contents) I often don't wear one, and have had no problems. Sorry for the long war story, but are there any thoughts?

  • #2
    Good point about "human error". That's a very valid argument for wearing hoods, helmet earflaps down and collar up. Things can get ugly in a hurry.

    I personally have always felt that we are indeed too well protected. I figure if you start feeling uncomfortable, it's time to split.

    Our county training center has one of those Flashover Simulators, and I've gone in with a set of Nomex gear, rubber boots, a thin, crappy hood and cheap gloves. You feel the heat, big time. I then went in with my PBI gear, leather boots, PBI hood and tempo gloves. What an unbelievable difference. I felt like I could sit in there all day.

    I believe this high level of protection makes us indifferent to the high heat levels, and makes us prone to take greater risks and travel further into the fire building. The fact that the equipment is so light now doesn't help either. We've got Scott pack 50's with the composite bottles, and you hardly realize you're wearing it.

    But, I do wear my hood most of the time, or at least keep it around my neck, with my helmet flaps down. I guess that's better then using it as a snot-rag. LOL


    LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBO: Any and all views I've expressed above and on this site are not representative of my department. They are my personal opinions and views. If my department knew the stuff I was spewing out here, they would disavow any knowledge of me anyway. LOL...Stay Safe


    • #3
      As pointed out in the original post, condiditons can change rapidly, either from human intervention or some unknown factor - your room & contents fire turns ugly (because the occupant is storing kerosene for their kerosene heater in the room). It seems to me that, with the unknowns involved in this job, that it is prudent to wear all of your protective equipment when fighting fire. Yes, the gear we now have does a wonderful job (sometimes too wonderful) protecting us from heat. Thus, WE, the occupants of that gear must be MORE aware of our circumstances and know when to bail. Using my ears as a thermometer is not my idea of being aware of my circumstances.


      • #4
        To me that is a big part of the problem,as was stated in the previous post I don't like to use my ears as a thermometer. Well what do we use as an indicator of when its time to get out but our senses. I to believe we are becoming to encapsulated in our gear and losing some of our senses. How do we know when its time to bail? Litch, how do you know when it's time to leave,what do you use as an indicator when your getting in to deep? I think experience plays the biggest part of when conditions are getting to bad,to new f/f put in situations without someone with more experience I can see your point of wearing a hood but at the same time how are you to laern when condition are getting bad. I do wear my hood around my neck if conditions start to get that bad I can always pull it up.


        • #5
          Even though department policy is to wear your hood, I do not because I feel to encapsulated when wearing it. Really the only time I use it is when we are at another departments' training and they require it, or if it's really cold outside. Other than that, it stays inside of my helmet. If that makes me sound like I am crazy, then so be it. I want to be able to feel the heat. If I lose some skin on my ears, so what. I'd rather it be that than losing my ***.

          ***Stay safe out there***
          ***These opinion(s) are my own, and not that of the department in which I serve***


          • #6
            jmk271, not wearing you hood is not only dangerous for you but also for the crew that in the structure, I cant believe that your incident commander lets you get away with endangering your self and your crew like you do, your going to loose your a## the painful way.



            • #7
              So... as the place flashes, aerosol can BLEVES, heat drops to the floor you stop, take your helmet off and put your hood up, then put your helmet back on? Id hate to be your partner depending on some help!

              JMK.. your a training officer? How much skin do you train your firefighters that it is ok to lose? Ever visited a burn center? Ever had a burn?

              Lump.. at what point does the single family dwelling you described go from a small to large fire? I guess there is also a lesson about passing an uncontrolled fire without a line on it too! You got lucky, don't press that luck.

              Wear your hood!!! Raise a gloved hand over your head once in a while to check for heat, watch for rapidly changing conditions, buy some sensors.. use thermal cameras, do something other than accept a burn as a routine thing.


              • #8
                So you don't feel like wearing your hood. This is 2nd and 3rd degree burns around the ears neck and face.

                Also, I am pretty sure if your department requires you to wear a hood and you don't and this happens to you, they are not liable because they have provided you with the equipment.

                Stay Safe.

                Kevin M. Fitzhenry, [email protected]
                Firefighter, Truck Co. 2
                City of Bayonne (NJ) FD

                [This message has been edited by FitzBFDT2 (edited 01-08-2001).]


                • #9
                  Well, that photo made me enjoy my lunch even more! Well, actually, I am glad some of us get to see the possible damage done when proper equuipment isn't worn. Thanks.

                  On a lighter note, if you guys are looking for a handy head cover when you shovel out from all the snow you have been getting, I recommend nomex hoods...they work fabulously from what a maintenence guy at work said. He is a former firefighter and lives by those hoods in the cold and in the fire.

                  "When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."
                  "Dusting desire - starting to learn. Walking through fire with out a burn..."


                  • #10
                    Was that a picture of a firefighter, and are they back at work? What was his down time? I myself where my sock hood religously, even on the smallest of calls, i.e vehicle, brush/grass. On structures I wear my Reed hood.

                    Stay safe.


                    • #11
                      Yes, the photo is of a firefighter who was not wearing a hood. It is from a neighboring department, so I do not know his downtime and if and when he went back to work.

                      Kevin M. Fitzhenry, [email protected]
                      Firefighter, Truck Co. 2
                      City of Bayonne (NJ) FD


                      • #12
                        I posted this topic a while ago (Are nomexhoods really necessary?) and I got a lot of responses both good and bad.

                        I do not use a nomex hood. If my ears start to get hot then I have gone in too far. Our department has them but they are an option. Infact we use them only in winter to keep our ears from getting cold. If I need protection I just pull the flaps down from my helmet. NFPA doesn't require the use of a hood if you wear your helmet with the earflaps down and keep the collar on your turnout coat up.

                        Glen Bordas

                        [This message has been edited by GBordas (edited 01-08-2001).]


                        • #13
                          Fitz.. as they say, a picture says a thousand words!.. thank you!


                          • #14
                            I agree with Halligan84 on this one. there is just no reason not to wear your hood in a fire if it was issued to you then it was for a adarn good reason. Because a dept. dosen't just go around buying equipment they buy it because it PROTECTS you from the elements of a fire.


                            • #15
                              Most of the PPE we wear is to protect us in case things really go south. I am a firm believer in wearing the hoods. I also understand the trade off you are referring to, but that needs to come through training and experience.


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