Let's Talk Fire: Drill Time- Get To Know Your Gloves
So we meet again nozzleheads! This time around in Let's Talk Fire Drill Time we will be discussing one of the most basic and yet overlooked aspects of fire service training. That aspect is our fire gloves. I know you are thinking I been a little to close to the truck exhaust but ask any firefighter what the hardest part about being in full turnout gear is and they will almost always tell you using the gloves. Even the simplest task becomes Chinese algebra when you have to do it with gloves on.
Our fire protection gloves are extremely bulky. They are made that way to provide adequate protection from any heat we may encounter inside a fire structure. As firefighters we know that the more protection we have generally the better off we are but at the same time this added bulk makes it difficult to perform. Glove complacency is vital for a firefighter and really should be a focus of training but usually gets seconded or even tossed out for SCBA or other forms of PPE training. In this drill time I am going to give you a few really cool and effective ways you can train with your fire gloves that will allow you to perform better when the time is needed. So let's begin shall we?
The Fishing Method
First off nothing gets me more riled up then having to wait on a firefighter who does not know how to get that second glove on. The first one goes on like butter on warm toast and than the second one just seems to send probies into a state of distorted reality. The easiest way to get that second fire glove on is to grab the cuff with your other gloved hand and move the hand that is going inside the glove in a motion like a fish swimming.
This motion will make your hand work itself into the glove much quicker than just trying to force it into the glove like a tiny cookie jar. That's right probie we know you did it!
Moving your hand from side to side will usually ensure you get the glove on the proper way with a good fit. Remember turnout is on wrong if it does not fit right!
Now That We Have Them On....
Getting those bad boys on is only half the fun. Now we need to get ourselves used to these things. The best firefighters are those who make the gloves seem like extensions of their own hands. One of my former chiefs, now retired, could literally pick change up off the floor in his gloves regardless of how well they were broke in.
Don't try to rush into that just yet. I am gonna give you an easy one first. Go to the dollar store or in the event the season is out you may have to do some online shopping. Buy a few of the diving sticks you see kids playing with in a pool. Simply toss them around the station and have firefighters pick them up with gloved hands. It may surprise you how difficult this usually simple task can become under the bulk and restraints of the typical fire glove.
I like to add to this exercises with a little multi task training. Set out a fire hose maze and tell the trainees that each diving stick represents a life they could have saved. Now place them around the maze and have the firefighters find them and stick them in their turnout jacket pocket after they pull them from the floor. The reality is you will see a lot of these sticks laying around because the firefighter will assume it went into the pocket when it did not.
This is a great way to get complacent and comfortable with gloves.
Gloves in closer view.
Gloves in Action
Real Time Training
Now let's put these gloves to the test. Take your firefighters and place them in a room sitting down with gloves on and beat them...... No wait don't do that, unless it is the probie or the company suck up, but sit them in a chair blind folded and hand them an object. The trick here is give them objects they may encounter during search and rescue operations. Each firefighter will have to identify the object simply on how it feels through the gloves they are wearing.
This is a great way to get used to how different things feel through gloves of the thickness that we crazies in the fire service use. It will help build understanding as well as make the firefighters much more adaptable to the gloves in different situations.
After they have done this you can even go a step further. Get yourself a few stuffed animals, a couple of small pillows and a doll. The doll needs to be realistic as possible and set these items around an area you can use for search and rescue type training. Now send in the firefighter and tell them to rescue the baby.
Make sure the room is dark and the firefighter will have to rely on their sense of touch which is greatly hindered by the gloves they are wearing. How many times do you imagine someone pulls out the pillows or even the stuffed animals? You may be surprised. It is very difficult to feel through the gloves we use. It takes practice and training to get an accurate feel for them.
Get Used To Em!
You Can Do It...
Just because you are not at the station does not mean you stop learning. When you are at home attempt simple everyday task with your gloves. Try tying a shoe or hanging up your clothes. Attempt to help a child put toys into a toy box or even do a puzzle with your gloves on. This is a great way to build recognition of how you operate in fire gloves and you can see where you need improvement and focus on those areas.
Training does not end just because the instructor is not present. You have to really go the extra step to make sure you can do these things the right way.
I like to wear my fire service gloves and try to pick up objects that might hinder my advancement into a home. Chairs, end tables, and other things of that nature. Remember you train to gain. Ask any firefighter what tool is the most vital and they will usually tell you the training you have is the key tool for any firefighter to use in any situation.
Gloves are the simplest aspect of our PPE short of maybe the nomex hood. Yet many firefighters just don't see the need to train with them as they would an axe, haligan or even SCBA. This is a huge and silly mistake we really can't afford to make. I will admit fire service gloves have been made in recent years that are a little more pliable than the former series but still are very difficult to use until you break them in and get used to how they function.
You need to be familiar with every piece of equipment available to you and never take for granted the gloves that keep your hands safe.
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