We have taught a lot of classes and trained extensively on numerous firefighter operations. One thing that always interests me is the choice of hand tools by firefighters. Each has their own preference and favorite, but in many cases when challenged as to why that specific tool is their tool of choice, the answer is not clear to them.
Some are bound by the fact that they work on a truck, engine or squad. Some are bound by their riding assignment based on what order they arrive on the scene. In many cases, however, they just pick what they want and what is convenient or easy to carry. This is dangerous and we encourage each firefighter to choose their tool with a purpose in mind.
When choosing your tool some things to consider are what your using it for, will it accomplish your tasks, is it durable and reliable and does it complement the tools of other members.
I’m not here to tell you what tool to use, but I have some suggestions for you to consider when picking your tool
–Can you use it for forcible entry or forcible egress?
–Will it get the job your are assigned to do accomplished?
–Will it allow you to perform multiple functions with that tool? Is is versatile?
–Are you familiar and proficient with that tool? Do you train frequently with it?
–Will it complement what your team members are using? This could be especially important for forcible entry and for being a more efficient team.
Take a look at the pictures and discuss the pros and cons of each tool. For example, I don’t like seeing guys coming off with a close hook. It is good for overhaul, but for forcible entry or breaching walls and getting out of a bad place, it’s not very useful. This is just my opinion. But, I have had firefighters pick that tool because it’s light and easy to carry.
Make the tools that are preferred easy to access and train with them. Clean and inspect them on a regular basis. Take care of those tools. Get know their capabilities and their limitations. You have to get your hands on them.
Discuss these options as a crew and/or company and share your thoughts. Take care and expect fire. Train hard!