Great response to the Weight Blog!

After returning from the Firehouse expo 09 I started talking about some of the HOT topics at the expo. By far, it was the vast about of Bail out System’s being sold and displayed at the expo. They had everything from a simple belt and rope to a full on body harness integrated into turnout gear? So the great debate started. Do you use a harness with a bailout system? If so, which kind do you use and how often do you train with your system, if at all? Is a bailout system “Worth the Weight” that it adds to your PPE? I surveyed firefighters from my home county about this subject and was mortally shocked about some of the answers that I received. They are so heavy, I don’t need that junk, if you do things right you don’t need them, and it’s a waste of time! These are all excuses and responses that people were saying. So, is it worth the weight? What is your opinion on this topic? Do you have a seat harness on your turnouts? Does your department purchase these tools for you? How often do you train with your bail out system and when you do train with it do you train under real fire conditions? Personally I wear an external harness and carry a 50′ section of rope with a hook and figure 8. I am interested in any responses that the fire service has on this topic and if you think that it is “Worth the Weight?”

Here is a Excellent response from Darin Virag, Lt Charleston WV Fire Department?


As an Instructor in firefighter safety and survival, I always ask my students, how long do you have to escape a room once you realize it’s going to flash and you have got to get out? Answer…approximately 17 seconds. Now, let me ask you this, how long will it take you to find a window, clear that window, find an anchor, deploy your escape system, and perform an emergency bailout? And perform this in black-out conditions, feeling the heat and increasing pressure from the imminent flashover. I’m willing to bet that most firefighters have never considered this or could complete this task in optimal conditions in the alotted time frame. I’m surprised at the amount of firefighters that tell me that they carry webbing, a carabineer, eight and rope and that they will tie a seat harness and rappel out of the window. This is by no means practical or possible, if anyone thinks so, I invite you to try it right now in optimal conditions. The only practical, fast means of escape are the all-in-one systems that are already connected to your harness or a pre-rigged rope and anchor system that can be wrapped around your body, using your hands and friction to slow your descent, the rope slide method. Still even under optimal conditions, there isn’t much time to spare using the benchmark time of 17 seconds. Throw in turnout gear, SCBA, black-out conditions and even our not-so-welcomed friend Mr. Murphy, who tends to show-up announced at the most inopportune times, and tell me how long it takes you. So how do we overcome this obstacle? Training, Training, Training.. Training with our equipment, in realistic settings, becoming familiar with the ins and outs of every aspect of this equipment. In my experience some firefighters are afraid of training and practicing with their equipment because it they are afraid of failing and being ridiculed by their peers or with a select few just can’t get out of the recliner long enough to train. If you ask me I’d rather fail during a training evolution where I can learn from my mistakes, have a second chance to go back and try again. Rather than to fail during a real-life emergency where my life is on the line and there is no second chance, period. In the military they use a slogan, “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”. That can apply to us as firefighters as well. Training, hard work and a little sweat during our free time may mean the difference between riding back to the station on an apparatus talking about how lucky I was and how my training pulled me through or riding on top of the apparatus, draped in a flag, having everybody talking about what a great guy I was. The choice is yours.

welcome to the jumpseat!