One of the best things about being the unofficial leader of the #viewscrew is the chance to hear the questions and opinions of many firefighters from around the world. One opinion that caught my eye today was the question whether to put your face piece on while responding to a reported structural fire. Let’s take a quick jumpseat ride to offer some opinions on whether or not we should put our face piece on while we are responding. Mask in the back?
Eyes wide open:
One of the classic arguments against putting your face piece on, a mask is what you wear for Halloween, is the limiting factors that restrict fields of vision. I’m going to date myself a bit as when I first started riding in the best seat we used the belt mounted regulators that had a seemingly 2 inch opening for your eyes. These gas mask style SCBA masks did have a constrictive field of vision that limited you to a small glimpse of what was going on around you. Times have changed these restrictive openings to a mostly clear wide open field of vision that doesn’t limit your vision nowhere near the older style of masks do.
With this in mind you could use the fact that with the larger field of vision comes with the chance to use your vision to note means of entry, exits, and/or hazards. This jumpseat riding firefighter usually puts his mask on while seat belted in the best seat. I feel like my vision is fine with my mask on……..But if that was all I had to offer the blog would end here…….
Being that I have the nickname of Jabber jaws the blog will continue with some other jumpseat views on this debated topic. Fogging on the facepiece is a true concern if you choose to place it into service before exiting the rig. Cold air, mixed with hot faces, or vise-versa can cause you facepiece to fog up more than a room full of steam-bathing people trying to cut weight. One quick solution to this problem is to place your regulator in service and take a few breaths to clear it. I know, that is yard breathing, it is and we truly should conserve our air but it only takes a few quick shallow breaths to fix this problem.
Placing it in service
This is the most pressing issue that I see on a daily basis when choosing to place a facepiece in service. If you choose to put it on just before entering the IDLH environment you MUST be skilled at placing in service with your GLOVED hands. Yelp, you heard it here! If you leave a parked apparatus, grab a tool or hose intended to be used to fight a fire you MUST have your FIRE GLOVES ON at all times. This is a jumpseat constant that I teach each time a firefighter is standing in front of me.
If you are not skilled at placing your face piece on with gloved hands, you will take your gloves off and stand the chance of losing them or even worse having to get near a hot object and get burned. Although I say that this skill is one that we all should have it is a difficult one that needs drilled on constantly to be proficient in the deployment of your facepiece and successful get the appropriate seal to your face.
Choosing you method of masking up, ok maybe it’s not Halloween, is a personal choice that can affect an entire crew. If you choose to place your facepiece on before or after you should practice and drill on your choice every day that you step into the firehouse. Building the muscle memory and repetition is the key to successfully using either method. I would also encourage you to practice the opposite of your choice just in case you are thrown into that situation without a moment’s notice. It’s not Halloween yet but masking up should be repeatedly practice over and over until you can’t get it wrong! Keep the good conversations coming from the #viewsCrew!
Here are some additional article from my bud over at Average Jake!